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Wiligelmo

Early Medieval Master Sculptor

Adam and Eve by Wiligelmo, on Modena's Duomo

Perhaps of German origin, or perhaps from Como, Wiligelmo (active 1106–20) is considered as the first of the great Italian Romanesque sculptors. If so, his work seems less of a timid beginning than a fully-formed and sophisticated art, intense and full of life, with a complex iconography that effortlessly combines scriptural interpretation and medieval fancy, along with a will to recapture the sculptural forms of antiquity. Some scholars see a French influence in his work, or even the collaboration of sculptors from Toulouse; others see the sometimes heavy, stocky figures as based on the illustrations in contemporary Ottonian manuscripts.

Wiligelmo was an architect too, and he is often given credit, alongside Lanfranco, for at least some of the design of Modena Cathedral.

His masterpiece is the sculptural work in Modena Cathedral; his followers worked on the Abbey of Nonantola.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Sailko, GNU Creative Commons License, Sailko, GNU Free Documentation License