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Culture Group:Italian (Campania) Title:Portal Archivolt from Cathedral of Alife Date:1100-1150 Medium:Marble Culture: Italian (Campania) Dimensions:55 x 96 x 9 inches (139.7 x 243.8 x 22.9 cm) A): 18 x 14 x 9 in. (45.7 x 35.6 x 22.9 cm) B): 31 3/8 x 7 1/4 x 8 in. (79.7 x 18.4 x 20.3 cm) C): 24 1/4 x 10 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (61.6 x 26.7 x 14 cm) D): 16 x 6 1/2 x 7 1/2 in. (40.6 x 16.5 x 19.1 cm) E): 18 x 8 x 8 1/2 in. (45.7 x 20.3 x 21.6 cm) F): 34 x 12 1/4 x 6 in. (86.4 x 31.1 x 15.2 cm) G): 18 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (47 x 26.7 x 24.1 cm) Credit Line:The Brummer Collection Accession number:1966.10.1 Label Copy: This archivolt, or semi-circular molding, was placed above one of the exterior doorways of a church in Alife in Southern Italy, near Naples. The swarm of deformed and devouring creatures, including serpents, griffins, roosters, and a lion, some of which attack humans, may depict the torments of sinners on the day of judgement when Christ would return to judge all people. Perhaps these images were intended to inspire the churchgoer to consider the consequences of sin and adopt a virtuous life. Recent scholarship explores whether the sculpted forms might evoke episodes from the Old Testament. The lion that overwhelms the man on the lower right block may allude to the story of the prophet Daniel in the den of lions, found in the Book of Daniel (Chapter 6). The man on the lower left block, who appears to emerge from the gaping mouth of a sea serpent, might recall the prophet Jonah, whose story in the Book of Jonah, tells of him being eaten by a great fish in whose belly he stayed for three days. Other questions also persist for art historians. The sizes of the figures vary significantly. Some stones do not connect well to others. Perhaps different craftsmen worked on different sections simultaneously, resulting in blocks of varying styles. Another explanation might be that blocks originally used or intended for different locations were united in the assemblage you see here. This arch is also remarkable for the Roman-era carving on the reverse, seen here. The medieval stone masons re-carved ancient stone fragments from seven hundred years earlier and installed them in their new twelfth-century cathedral. Despite their pagan origins, Roman architectural remains often were appropriated for Christian structures for practical reasons, such as the quality of the stone or its proximity to the new building site. Provenance: Pietro Tozzi, New York, NY. Purchased on March 6, 1928 by Joseph [1883-1947] Brummer; Offered in the Joseph Brummer Collection sale Part III, Parke-Bernet, New York NY, 1949, no. 586. By inheritance to Ernest Brummer's wife, Ella Brummer; purchased 1966 by Duke University Museum of Art, now Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.


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