Artibus et Historiae no. 23 (XII)

1991, ISSN 0391-9064

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BOGNA JAKUBOWSKA - Salve Me Ex Ore Leonis

On Gothic tomb plates, animals placed at the feet of effigies of the deceased have usually been attributed either positive or negative meanings. The author regards them as pejorative signs which, together with other iconographic motifs of sepulchral art, express the idea of man as the redeemed. An animal shown being trodden upon by the deceased symbolizes evil in defeat, as in representations of Christus victor treading on animals according to Psalm 91:13. The image of Christ triumphant is the first link in the chain of figures depicted raised above the backs of animals in medieval art, followed by representations of Maria victrix, saints, and rulers, as well as of the deceased as Homo victor. For the latter has vanquished sin and, having recovered his primary likeness to God, has become beautiful again. He has not died, but is standing at the gate of Redemption to live in eternity.

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