As a leading example of French Romanesque art and the oldest surviving one, 46 of the 76 cloister capitals at the Abbey Church in Moissac (b.1063) illustrate themes from the scriptures or the lives of saints, while the remained display floral images, mainly acanthus, natural or conventionalized. Acanthus is a Mediterranean plant whose hidden meaning was immortality and pain/sin/punishment in Christianity. However, it decorated on Corinthian capitals as a supporting motif in ornamentation during the Middle Age. This paper discusses of (1) similarity between the floral form by design elements/principles and (2) re-evaluation of the flora as symbolic or aesthetic.
Medieval architectural images were derived from artists’ indirect experience of architecture which provided imagery and the aesthetic values. Buildings, urban landscapes, and representations of country life did not depict the real world. Instead they were symbols which evoked transcendence and spirituality in accordance with the religious fervour prevalent in the Middle Ages. Romanesque expression entailed a simplified style which helped architectural features to be detached from reality. Buildings were stylised representations of hierarchic proportions. The emphasis of specific features and simplified shapes made these representations far removed from the real world, but easily recognizable as architectural structures evoking the spiritual world.