Nowadays, when we visit an ancient church, we are used to see it in bare stone, and it gives us the impression that they always have been like that. But in the Middle Ages, the churches were completely painted, and the stone was barely visible.
Churches full of color
The walls of churches were with fresco paintings, and the matter was always moralistic and religious.
It was about transmitting the message of God. The most represented subject was the one of the Pantocrator. Christ God, seated within a mandorla that represents the union between the divine and the heavenly world in reference to the dual nature of Jesus Christ.
The best-known piece in this area is the Pantocrator of Sant Climent de Taüll, which is on display in the MNAC’s Romanesque collection of Barcelona.
The four symbols associated with the evangelists are arranged around this Christ in majesty: the lion, the eagle, the bull, and the man, according to the visions of the Revelation, but also of Isaiah and of Ezekiel. Below are some of the apostles and Mary.
Because in Romanesque, the faces of the characters are all the same and they don’t differ from one another, the artist wrote the name of each, the faithful could know who were them.
Sant Climent de Taüll was consecrated on December 10, 1123, and this is reflected in the inscription on one of the columns, which is also preserved in the museum.
Anonymous artists for true works of art
The author of the work is unknown, like the great majority of the works done in the Romanesque times.
The artists of those times were itinerant and moved wherever they were hired. They traveled in groups, and besides the master, there was always at least a journeyman and an apprentice. The officer could make wall paintings, but the part of the apse had to be done by the master, as he is the most valuable.
In this case, art historians call this author Master of Taüll, because this is the most important piece of all he made.
Although isn’t known a lot about them, it seems that they were a group from Italy and that they could have been inspired especially by the mosaics of the last Roman period or the miniatures in the manuscripts. In addition to knowledge, these artists also brought their tools and materials from their country.
The best collection of Romanesque frescoes in Europe
Italian technicians pulled off these fresco paintings between 1919 and 1923, according with the strappo technique. Many of the frescoes of this museum were pulled off with this same technique and they areexhibited in this museum from 1934.
Apart from the frescoes, the museum also presents a magnificent collection of other liturgical objects from the same period. If you want to visit the MNAC Romanesque art collection, do not hesitate to contact us.
The paintings of Sant Climent de Taull come from the Boí Valley, which was declared a World Heritage by the UNESCO in 2000.
If you want to take advantage of your stay in Catalonia to know the place of origin of the paintings, you should not miss a getaway in the Vall de Boí. Ask us for information and we will help you prepare your trip.