Title page for ETD etd-04242012-075315

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author buras, chelsea
Author's Email Address chelsea.buras@yahoo.com
URN etd-04242012-075315
Title Social Influences on Sculpted Romanesque Corbels in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Art
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Savage, Matthew Committee Chair
mauck, marchita Committee Member
zucker, mark Committee Member
  • romanesque corbels
Date of Defense 2012-04-04
Availability unrestricted
Sculpted corbels of the Romanesque period are often categorized as obscene or grotesque, and frequently dismissed as medieval humor or an individual artistís imagination. Common themes on corbels include images of debauchery and obscenity, as well as depictions of the effects of sin. These themes are usually communicated through the image of entertainers (acrobats, musicians, and dancers), acts of excess such as overindulgence in alcohol or sexual vice, threatening gestures, monstrous animals, or the human visage transformed by idiocy. As titillating and lowbrow as the images on corbels may seem, they should not be relegated to categories of absurdity or pure entertainment. Sculpted Romanesque corbels reveal a specific medieval visual concept of physical and spiritual degradation resulting from mortal sin. Furthermore, depictions of people and activities on sculpted corbels created between the eleventh and twelfth century in France and Northern Spain provide insight into medieval society. In analyzing the evidence, an interdisciplinary approach is essential to provide insight into the visual and social functions of sculpted corbels. An evaluation of shifts in power and economics during the eleventh and twelfth centuries establishes historical contexts, while a review of medieval written sources provides insights into medieval philosophies and perceptions. When such source materials are reviewed in conjunction with visual images, many aspects of medieval societal concerns that are embedded within Romanesque corbels become identifiable. Finally, when corbels are considered contextually with other images in their immediate vicinity on building facades, themes and even narratives are revealed.
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