Corbels

Upper portion of the façade, cathedral of Sessa Aurunca, twelfth century (click to enlarge)

Upper portion of the façade, cathedral of Sessa Aurunca, twelfth century (click to enlarge)

The long restoration campaign at the cathedral is nearing completion and the scaffolding has finally been removed from the façade. I had been waiting for months to photograph some of the animal sculptures, and a couple of mornings ago, as I trained my camera on the ox at the upper left of the window, I was reminded that quite a few of the façade’s decorative corbels are animal heads, among them, a pig, without question my favorite.

Figural corbels, façade, cathedral of Sessa Aurunca, the pig is the first on the left

Figural corbels, façade, cathedral of Sessa Aurunca, the pig is the first on the left

A corbel, or console, is a projecting, usually load-bearing, architectural element, functioning much like a bracket. A series of corbels supporting an arcade is called an arched corbel table, a common motif in Romanesque architecture. These were often left unadorned, but sometimes their corbels were carved with decorative or figural ornaments, as at Sessa. The pig appears in the corbel table beneath the gable of the façade, which is the only one that retains all of its decorative corbels.

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5 responses to “Corbels

  1. Yup, corbels. I love them, they're one of my favorite architectural elements. These are pretty staid compared to some others I've seen.

  2. Thanks for continuing to educate me about things in the art world I never knew!

  3. Fern, I'm not sure what it is, but I don't think it's anything as interesting as a crocodile. I think it's probably a dog. I should be able to find the answer to your question pretty easily, though. I'll post back in a comment to let you know.Gil, it's a pleasure. You're welcome.

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