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5. The Romanesque Zodiac: Its Symbolic Function on the Church Facade

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses that the depiction of the zodiac on Romanesque church facades constitutes a visual expression of conceptions of time. It explicates the connection between the monumental image of the zodiac and theories of time set forth in exegetical and philosophical texts. The chapter establishes the iconographic function of the facade zodiacs. It emphasizes the conceptual changes manifested in the twelfth century, which find expression in the facade sculpture. The earliest extant sculptural cycle in situ is located at the monastery of the Sagra di San Michele in the Val di Susa and assigned to the second decade of the twelfth century. The zodiacs at Vezelay and Autun in Burgundy were sculpted just a few years later. The zodiac framed tympana of central France focus on the figure of Christ, but each depicts a event, the Pentacost at Vezelay, the Last Judgment at Autun and the Ascension at Chartres.

Keywords: Romanesque church facades; Sagra di San Michele; zodiacs

10.1163/9789004267862_008
/content/books/b9789004267862_008
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