Information sur l’artiste
France, Berry

Date de l’œuvre libre
Third quarter of the 12th century
France, Berry, Jongleur, troisième quart du XIIe siècle.
France, Berry,
Jongleur, troisième quart du XIIe siècle.
Image © Lyon MBA – Photo Alain Basset

Surrounded by a frame, a figure dressed in a short tunic and jacket juggles and dances. He throws a ball with his left hand and prepares to catch it in the other. The style of the bas-relief suggests that it may be an archivolt, an architectural feature which was probably originally from the doorway of the Saint-Pierre-le-Puellier church in Bourges, a building that no longer exists.


The body of the figure trapped within the frame is a perfect expression of the way sculpture was often subservient to architecture in Roman times. The great art historian Henri Focillon called this the 'law of the frame', based in particular on this famous bas-relief. The style invites comparison with the Burgundy school of sculpture: the elegance and precision of the relief, the quality of the movement, and the highly ornamental drapery are particularly reminiscent of the sculpted décor in the Vézelay Abbey. The inscription around the edge, which could be mistaken for Armenian letters, is in fact purely ornamental, but it does illustrate the Oriental influences present throughout the Middle Ages in France.

Artwork label
Description de l’œuvre

H.60; L.33; D.11 cm
Purchased in 1881
Inv. D 140

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