Doorjamb figure of the prophet Jeremiah from a church portal in France

February 15, 2018
image of art
Photo © Bridgeman-Giraudon / Art Resource, NY

This carving of Jeremiah is situated in the doorway of St. Peter Church in Moissac, France. The 12th-century church is on one of the pilgrimage roads to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Jeremiah is positioned below an image of Christ as apocalyptic judge. Several lions in the sculpture link Jeremiah with courageous kings. The prophet’s form is elongated, and he seems to struggle to free himself from the stone. His cross-legged position echoes the crisscrossing of the lions. His long hair and beard are customary in representations of the prophet. He holds a scroll which symbolizes the Torah and perhaps alludes to the “new covenant,” which Jeremiah asserts binds Israel to God (Jer. 31:31–34).