This paper will pursue the concept of artistic expertise as a commodity in the first half of the twelfth century in northern Iberia and southern France. Consequently it will also cast doubt on the idea of the unfettered itinerant craftsman. The proposed exchange of expertise will be situated within wider systems of trade and captivity both across and within confessional divides. Literature supplies an image, conjured in the Pseudo-Turpin, of a statue made by the Prophet Muhammad, beautifully carved with Saracenic work but containing a legion of demons. In this vein Romanesque sculpture at Oloron-Sainte-Marie has been viewed both as a response to pagan works and through a triumphalist lens. Here the twin chained atlantes on the trumeau, and the cast of the shackled figure from Sainte-Foy at Morlaàs, will be the object of a different interpretation. It will be argued that these figures – and some other atlantes – embody a playful response to the complex status of craftsmen.
Rose Walker is an Honorary Research Fellow at The Courtauld; this research is part of a project on twelfth-century Iberia funded by a Leverhulme Emeritus Research Fellowship.
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