Theses Doctoral

Living Stones: Sculpted Foliage in Gothic Architecture, c.1140-1300

Cataldo, Emogene

This dissertation examines key examples of foliate carving from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, re-evaluating its historiographic context while refracting foliate decoration through the lens of climate in the medieval West. Looking to medieval ideas about plant life, weather, and religious devotion in France and England, this study posits that ecological change, rather than the influx of ideas in medieval universities, was a key factor in changing attitudes towards nature in the Middle Ages.

The foliate program on the west façade of Notre-Dame of Amiens illustrates connections to environmental miracles, authenticity of local relics, and the Church’s attempts to intervene in natural disasters. Taking one of the most significant examples of medieval foliate sculpture, the interior foliate frieze of Amiens, a new analysis argues that sculptors knowingly made this monumental frieze look as if it were organic and alive, rather than reproducing each segment identically. Crockets, on the other hand, a site of repetition and modular adaptation, are considered an important aspect of Gothic design, especially in the quire and west front of Wells Cathedral, where innovative crocket designs appear to complement the visual identity crafted by the diocese.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Murray, Stephen
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 13, 2021