Misericords

DEFINITION

Wooden relief carvings in Gothic churches that decorate the undersides of seating ledges provided for clergy during services. Misericords often portray biblical scenes, but many have secular subjects. A great many are grotesque, fantastic, and witty. In England, exemplars are often cited at the cathedrals of Ely, Exeter, Wells, and Lincoln. The word is derived from the Latin word misericordia, which means mercy or pity. A misericord, then, is an expression of God's mercy for the exhausted clergyman who would otherwise have to stand.Examples:English, Knight Fighting a Dragon, carved oak, one of the 35 misericords at the cathedral of St. Peter, Exeter, c. 1279. Three others are Branch Springing from a Dragon's Mouth, Doves with Strawberry Leaf Between Them, and the Locust of the Apocalypse.English, Long-Tongued Grotesque, carved oak, St. Margaret's Church, Chester, 1370-77.Another misericord in this church represents a demon ? an anthropomorphic bat ? above two women. See anthropomorphic and representation.

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