Nuove considerazioni sulla scultura architettonica dell'abbazia di Fossanova

Author: Francesca Pomarici

New Considerations on the Architectural Sculpture of Fossanova Abbey

The article reviews the architectural sculpture of the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova since the beginning of its construction in the last decades of the 12th century, until the renovation of the southern gallery of the cloister in the third quarter of the 13th century. Based on the analysis of the capitals, which represents the greater part of the study, it is possible to identify different situations. In a first phase, concerning some conventual buildings and part of the choir and the church transept, there are capitals of the so called ‘Cistercian’ type; in addition to these, in the crossing and in the aisles, there are newer types, of more recent origin.
In the portal, it is possible to recognize the later appearance of workmen from southern Italy, who used their own repertoire with a classical component. In the next phase, regarding renovations in the refectory and in the chapter house, a local workshop was enriched by the experience of itinerant foreign masters and also by the contribution of sculptors from the nearby Casamari abbey.
Finally, in the last phase, the reconstruction of the southern cloister gallery, it is remarkable to notice the presence of other masters coming from Friderician  southern workshops, bringing new updated types of French Gothic origin. Above all, it should be emphasized that this brought about the constitution of a coherent and elegant formal language which re-elaborated all the decorative traditions of the abbey with master craftsmanship, creating a stylistic and typological mode that will later spread across the surrounding territory, initiating the ‘Fossanova  School’. Considering the different phases experienced by the architectural sculpture in the abbey, the analysis of the individual choices reveals, as deserving particular attention, the importance of the role played by the monks in the determination of the formal tone, the acceptance of novelties and the way to elaborate them.