Sculpture Journal

The joy of automata and Cistercian monasteries: from Boxley in Kent to San Galgano in Tuscany

Sculpture Journal (2016), 25, (1), 7–28.

Abstract

The Cistercian Order has not traditionally been thought of as an enthusiastic patron of sculptural work. St Bernard of Clairvaux was scathing about the presence of such images in an ecclesiastical context. However, the evidence presented in this article clearly demonstrates that the Cistercians played a pivotal role in the introduction and dissemination of sculptural action figures and other animated objects from the medieval period onwards, influencing other religious orders in the process. Drawing on the evidence provided by rare surviving objects as well as documentary records of various kinds, the article offers a European-wide overview of such commissions, with particular attention devoted to images of the Virgin and Child, the Pietà and the isolated figure of Christ.

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Author details

Tripps, Johannes