Links to all French Cathedral and Abbey Photo Pages in Paradoxplace

Links to all Abbey and Cathedral Pages in Paradoxplace

About Paradoxplace


Musée Rolin, Autun (Burgundy)


Gislebertus Captures the Temptation of Eve


Back to Paradoxplace Burgundy & Champagne Pages







Cathédrale St-Lazare, Autun - Main Page



Romanesque West Portal Tympanum, Lintel and Capitals



Medieval Narrative Capitals in the Nave



Labours of the Month and Signs of the Zodiac - January to May



Medieval Narrative Capitals in the Chapter House



Labours of the Month and Signs of the Zodiac - June to December



Musée Rolin and Gislebertus' Eve (this page)



Links to Basilique Ste-Madeleine (Vézelay) and Basilique St-Andoche (Saulieu)







Moving around Eve





This is Gislebertus' "Temptation of Eve" (though it is not clear whether our woman is tempted or temptress) which is in the Musée Rolin near the Cathédrale.  The huge work (the exhibit must be at least a couple of meters across at least) was just part of the lintel of the cathedral's north door, the other parts of which have disappeared.  Like the west door tympanum and nave capitals, it dates from the 1130s. 


"Eve" and the trumeau statue of the Prophet Jeremiah at Moissac are regarded as the finest surviving Romanesque carvings in France, and it's not hard to appreciate why.  We have included an interesting description of the work by choirmaster and archivist Canon Denis Grivot at the bottom of this page.


The guide books tell you that the lintel was a victim of revolutionary smashing, but the truth is that it was so little valued by the community that it was bought and removed in 1766 by a local builder named Tacot, who incorporated it into a nice house he was building in nearby Rue de Lattre for the family Tacot.  Almost exactly a hundred years later, the lintel pieces were rediscovered during renovation work on the house ..... click here for more .....


As Denis Grivot says, it is still entirely possible that the north portal lintel images of Adam and the devil will turn up in an Autun house, as may the tympanum images showing the resurrection of Lazarus.  Depressingly, the Met in New York has hung on to an archivolt angel as has the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Mass.  









Eve, head resting on right arm, looks forward resolutely whilst the left hand sneaks backwards to grasp an apple.  The photography lesson learned from several "statue shots" was that it is generally better to get close to where the eyes are looking (compare the photos above and decide for yourself).  Another good example of this rule was the trumeau statue of the prophet Jeremiah at Moissac





Above - Eve grasps the apple, whilst the "pincer claw" of the broken off hand of the devil can be seen on the upper right gripping / holding up the branch of the apple tree towards Eve's hand.  The complete lintel would have shown the rest of the devil on the right and Adam on the left  - mindblowing !! 







Gislebertus - St-Martin (?) wearing a hood regarded in the 1100s as a symbol of "poverty stricken clothing" - or a monk - possibly part of the north transept portal.



Gislebertus - possibly part of a north portal trumeau representation of the assumption of the Mary Magdalen, sister of Lazarus (detail below) or the Vrrgin Mary - also discovered in a local house.






"Geometry" - Originally in the Cathedral Cloister





Roman headstones - Autun was an important Roman town set up originally by Augustus in the early years of the first millennium.  It was serviced by a road named after Augustus' son-in-law Marcus Agrippa who was commander of the Roman Army in Gaul.  The pleasant country town still exists pretty much within the Roman walls, and includes the remains of a 15,000 seat theatre and two of the original four town gates.





Buy the English Version from Amazon USA



This is the translated description of the Eve statue in Denis Grivot's book:




In the year 1766 this carving was taken down from the doorway of the Cathedral. The building contractor Tacot, who bought up everything he could lay his hands on, made use of Eve in building the house which bears today the number 12 Rue de Lattre. During restoration work carried out on this house in the year 1866, Eve, luckily was discovered but by sheer accident. The carving was bought by the Abbé Terret, archaeologist and historian of the Cathedral, and it was given later to the Societé Eduenne. Eve is one of the finest carvings to be found in Romanesque sculpture. The fact that the figure is reclining made the work all the more difficult for the sculptor, who succeeded in giving an unmistakable touch of reality to the reclining woman, apprehensive, apparently at rest, and feigning to ignore that she is taking the apple from the devil, one of whose claws can be seen on the right-hand side of the carving. Though the nose has been slightly damaged, the face, if not one of striking beauty is however one which is outstandingly realistic.


This is no 12th century woman; this is timeless Woman, whose remote beauty reaches far beyond fashion, time or race. Her beautifully dressed hair falling in light strands softens the apparent stiffness of the reclining body. The upper part of the body is shown full face, while the legs are shown in profile; this position has been used on several occasions at Autun, another successful example of it being that of Saint Vincent Protected by Two Eagles. There can be no doubt that the Adam facing Eve on the Tympanum was also in a reclining position, and that he must bear a striking resemblance to Saint Vincent, whose very existence makes us regret all the more the absence of Adam: this Adam who will certainly be found some day by chance in the wall of a local house, as will also be found the Lazarus of the Pier of the side Portal and the Lazarus accompanied by his two sisters which formed the Pier of the Great Portal of the Cathedral.


It is no exaggeration to say that man has taken great pride in his mother Eve right through the ages, though a certain number of the Fathers of the Church have tried to blacken her reputation, and to render her responsible for the many ills that have befallen mankind. They have never succeeded however in influencing the judgment of artists to whom Eve will always remain the most beautiful woman of all time. The Virgin Mary was the only person to surpass her in beauty. No artist has ever played at showing Eve only as a foil to another's beauty ; she is unique ; the only one of her kind in the Bible to bear the name Eve, and no one has ever succeeded in making her grow old or ugly. She has not managed to get herself canonized, though she has been paid tribute to by the whole human race which readily recognizes itself in the events so well recounted in the Book of Genesis, where in the final analysis it is woman's beauty, her dignity and her touch of the sublime which are remembered, rather than her weakness."




For other Paradoxplace links visit the home page


Latest Updates Site Map Travel Services Insight Pages Artists Cathedrals Abbeys France Spain Portugal Britain Italy Venice,  N Italy Tuscany Umbria Rome, Central Italy Sicily, South Italy Book Pages Middle Ages-1350 Renaissance-1600 Map Pages Information


All original material © Adrian Fletcher 2000-2015 - The contents may not be hotlinked, or reproduced without permission.