French; From the Abbey of Notre-Dame-de-Pontaut, Gascony
42 x 33 ft. (1 m 280 cm x 1 m 5 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1935 (35.50)
The chapter house was the place where members of a monastic community met each day to discuss the business of the day. This example comes from an abbey in Pontaut in southwestern France, founded in 1115 under Benedictine rule. Stone benches around three walls of the chapter house provide seats for the monks, and large archways on the fourth side open onto the cloister walk. The columns supporting the vaulting have capitals carved with stylized animal and plant motifs. This ornament probably belongs to the first phase of construction at Pontaut, before the abbey became Cistercian in 1151.