Artibus et Historiae no. 22 (XI)

1990, ISSN 0391-9064

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GEORGE ZARNECKI - Germanic Animal Motifs in Romanesque Sculpture

The chalice-shaped font in St. Cassian's church at Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire, serves as the departure point for a discussion of the sources of certain unusual features in Romanesque sculptural ornamentation. On this font, a work of the Herefordshire School from the second quarter of the twelfth century, the heads of the monsters have Italian counterparts, but the intertwining tails and the bands that loop round these tails, thereby strangling the beasts, are of ancient Germanic origin. The Saxon settlement brought the motif to England where it flourished, later influencing such continental works as the Tassilo Chalice, made for the abbey of Kremsm√ľnster. Another, even more savage Germanic motif is the penetration of forms: animals pierced by their own tails, tongues, legs, or by interlacing bands of ornament are common in Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian art of the Romanesque period.

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