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Photo of Autun Cathedral

Capital: Flight into Egypt

Romanesque capital from the choir, now displayed in the chapter house, depicting the Flight into Egypt. Having been warned in a dream that Herod seeks to kill the Christ Child, Joseph leads Mary and the Baby on a donkey to safety in Egypt. The Holy Family looks serene but solemn and the donkey appears proud of his important task.

Interestingly, there are five wheels at the bottom of the scene. Similar wheels appear on this capital's counterpart at Saulieu Basilica, which was probably also carved by Gislebertus. They probably derive from the wheels on which statues were pulled during medieval mystery plays and processions. They are perhaps included to add a further sense of movement to the scene.

Photo © David Joyal.

license this photo at Art History Images