Wiligelmo da Modena

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First important sculptor of the Romanesque period, active at Modena cathedral, c. 1099 to c. 1110. An inscription on a tablet supported by the prophets Enoch and Elias on the façade of Modena cathedral gives the date of the cathedral's foundation in 1099 and names Wiligelmo as the chief sculptor. That some part of the Modena sculpture was completed by 1106 is indicated by a similar relief at Cremona cathedral, dated 1107, which was directly influenced by Wiligelmo. The "Portale Maggiore" of the west façade at Modena includes reliefs of 12 Prophets; inhabited rinceaux carried by atlantes on the jambs; a series of four large reliefs, each with three episodes from Genesis, from the "Creation of Man" to "Noah's Ark"; winged genii; and capitals. The short, bulky figures with large heads and hands are arranged in friezelike compositions beneath an arcade; their drapery falls in long straight folds or is indicated by raised ridges between parallel incised lines. Although the structure of the Modena door is derived from the slightly earlier portal of S. Ambrogio, no direct prototypes for the figural style or the sculptural program exist in earlier Lombard art. The winged genii prove Wiligelmo's dependence on provincial Roman sarcophagi and funerary steles. The "Portale dei Principi" and "Portale della Pescheria" of Modena cathedral are by his workshop; his influence is apparent also at Cremona, Nonantola, and Quarantola. Wiligelmo's highly original portal ensemble is a possible source for the west façade of Saint-Denis, north of Paris (c. 113740) and for an early manifestation of the widespread revival of monumental stone sculpture in 12th-century Europe.

Bibliography: r. salvini, Wiligelmo e le origini della scultura romanica (Milan 1956).

[m. schaefer]

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Wiligelmo da Modena

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