Angel and Demon.  Romanesque capital.  Ca. 1089-1206.

        Romanesque builders, such as those at Vézelay, France, used sculpture to provide "sermons in stone" for illiterate visitors.  Symbolic rather than idealistic or realistic, these figures were designed to convey religious meanings.  For example, instead of strictly copying the ancient Greco-Roman columns, the artisans often created their own style of decoration. The capitals were sculpted with religious scenes and motifs, such as the one above that shows an angel subduing a demon.  Throughout the High Middle Ages fears and superstitions abounded, and the art often depicted contests between divine, or even magical, powers over evil ones.  In the Late Middle Ages, however, church moralists considered the vivacity and sometimes gaiety of these sculptures to be inappropriate in God's house, and the offending works were plastered over or removed.

Carved Capital with Centaurs, Iffley Church