Eve and Her Daughters: Eve, Mary, the Virgin, and the Lintel Fragment at Autun
Ferro, Jessica Maria (University of Pennsylvania)
Vexillum: The Undergraduate Journal of Classical and Medieval Studies, Vol 2 (2012)
The lintel fragment of Eve from the Cathedral of St. Lazaire at Autun has been praised by art historians as one of the greatest monumental figural works of the Romanesque period. Many have viewed this work as representing the typical image of Eve as an evil, seductive, and treacherous figure responsible for the fall of man, and whom misogynistic medieval thinkers blamed for the innately evil nature of women. However a few scholars, such as Linda Seidel, Karl Werckmeister, Denise Jalabert, and Areli Marina have noted a uniqueness in the features of this Eve figure, one which strays from the “repellently ugly or hatefully seductive” Eve that most associate with the biblical figure and her depictions in art. Seidel, briefly muses over the idea that perhaps viewers could read this figure as representing both the sinful Eve and the penitent Mary Magdalene. Building on this thought, the work of the other scholars above, and my onsite work at Autun and the surrounding sites, this paper proposes the idea of a conflation not only of Eve and Mary Magdalene but of the Virgin Mary as well. I hope to reveal, by way of formal description, short histories of the scorn of Eve, the cults of the Virgin and Mary Magdalene, and their relation to each other as well as brief comparison to the tympana at Neuilly-en-Donjon and Anzy-le-Duc, that there is a legitimate possibility that this lintel fragment was meant to bring to mind all three of these figures.