Sculpture in calcareous sandstone – early 13th century
This character making a terrible grimace was probably originally painted and would have been used as a support for a gargoyle that would also have been grimacing. It formed part of a large number of sculptures gracing the back of the choir of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle Church.
Roman artistic tradition
This sculpture is one of the oldest ever completed in Brussels. Although it was made during a period of transition just before Gothic took over, it has greater affinity with the Roman tradition, which regularly featured monstrous figures in religious edifices.
All cultures, from prehistoric times onwards, have imagined formidable creatures suffering from various anomalies, acting as a foil to human identity. Many of our medieval ancestors believed that hybrid creatures peopled the extremities of the world and hell abounded with demonic beings.
The monsters from Notre-Dame de la Chapelle Church in Brussels would have struck fear into the hearts of the faithful. These figures, inspired by the Devil, were meant as a warning, incarnating as they did vices that believers had to fight against.
Before you leave the room, don't forget to have a look at the computer terminal which provides fascinating additional information. You will find one of these terminals in each of the rooms on the ground floor.
To find the next work, go to the centre of the neighbouring room dedicated to sculptures from the 16th to the 19th century.