Spain Romanesque Arts in the 11th and 12th Century

By | January 4, 2022

Between the last Mozarabic buildings and the first Romanesque there is the interval of half a century, which is little known. In the Spanish Romanesque, a distinction should be made between the elements of the new art, which already existed for some time in the peninsula, and which have already been mentioned, and the introduction of new forms already reduced to a system. As for the introduction of the Romanesque style, the personal intervention of the great king of Navarre Sancho the Major, who dominated all Christian Spain due to his victories and as a result of his marriage, should not be overlooked. From 1025 he began to introduce the Cluniac reform in the monasteries, which although they did not exercise a homogeneous artistic action, in the opinion of Gómez Moreno, were also the factors of the new style,

Apart from that, Catalonia must be considered. There is uncertainty about the so-called first Romanesque art with the vaults attributed to the 9th and 10th centuries, and its relationship with Carolingian and Lombard art cannot be forgotten either. The great figure of Abbot Oliva de Ripoll, who consecrated the church he had rebuilt in 1032, dominates the Catalan Romanesque Renaissance. The study of Catalan Romanesque architecture must begin with that of the churches of Caserres (1006), Tabernoles, Cardona (1040), etc.

In 1034 the Visigothic crypt of the cathedral of Palencia was enlarged and was dedicated the following year: it has a seven-meter wide nave with an apse that does not reach the middle of the circle; its structure and details reveal Romanesque characters, with archaisms that suggest a master who knew Asturian architecture. Singular is the vòlte system, common in Spain unlike France, Italy and Germany. In these first steps of the Romanesque everything speaks to us of its relationship with Asturian architecture, which, in the opinion of Gómez Moreno, is the best documented proto-Romanesque that can be recognized in the West.

According to HEALTHINCLUDE, two sons of Sancho the Major, Fernando and Ramiro, respectively built the portico known as the Royal Pantheon in Spain Isidoro in León and the cathedral of Jaca, the one finished between 1066 and 1073, this one dedicated in 1063. In the portico we find mixed Lombard influences, Byzantine and Norman, a wonderful decoration of the capitals, in fourteen of which predominate figures whose marked originality and vivacity combined with great feeling would disturb us for the lack of precedents, if they did not coincide in date with a series of prodigious works in ivory and jewelery due to the munificence of King Fernando I himself (e.g. the cabinet with ivory sheets that the kings donated to the church of Spain Isidoro in 1059, the crucifix, also in ivory, which is kept in the National Archaeological Museum, of 1063, and the distinguished chest ofsilver which served in 1063 to keep the relics of St. Isidore transported from Seville to León).

The cathedral of Jaca is a grandiose and perfectly Romanesque building (1054? -1063): it has three naves with a transept at the same level, in the Lombard manner then also followed in Spain, a complex of perfect vaults, especially in the dome, and a very rich more classical than Byzantine sculptural decoration.

Other typical works in Castile are: Spain Martino di Frómista (Palencia); Silos, with a cloister on the date of which there is great controversy, although everyone agrees on the value and beauty of the capitals in which the influence of Byzantine and Caliphal ivories can be seen; the church of Spain Isidoro de León (between 1072 and 11 oi), and finally the main monument of the Spanish Romanesque style, that is the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela (v.), begun in 1075 and consecrated in 1105, among the major monuments of the Romanesque age both for architecture and for the sculptures of the “Puerta de las Platerías” and “Pórtico de la Gloria”.

Leaving these monuments that already herald the Gothic, it is necessary to mention some examples of conspicuous value, such as the full-expression ivories of the San Millán case (now in the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid), which must date from 1067, the great holy ark of the Holy Chamber of Oviedo, gilded silver with reliefs of 1075. Thus there is still evidence that the Spanish style is the fruit of the fruitful union of the Christian and Muslim styles. It is necessary to remember the Romanesque illuminated manuscripts, especially those of the aforementioned Commentaries on the Apocalypse by Beato. Under Fernando I, influences of new art begin to be felt, as in the codex written for the king in 1047. The paintings of San Baudel by Casillas de Berlanga, with curious biblical and hunting scenes, and those of Maderuelo, both in Castile, and especially the series of Catalan frescoes form an imposing complex in the history of medieval painting. The oldest Catalan paintings are those of the Mozarabic church of Pedret which has comparisons with Roman models. Towards the middle of the 12th century, the Italian influence was added to that of monumental sculpture from the south of France, evident in the paintings of St. Michael in the cathedral of Urgel and in the magnificent ones of St. Clement of Tahull, of rather doubtful date.

At the end of the century XIII the forms of the Gothic begin to arrive, but it is more a question of a hesitant penetration than of an invasion; in remote places and in rural regions the Romanesque persists even in the course of the century. XIII.

It is worth mentioning here an artistic manifestation, typical of the Spanish Middle Ages, that is the Mudejar (v.), Or “Moorish”, a mixed art of Christian and Muslim elements that the Moorish masons spread in Castile, León and Aragon. Perhaps the main seat is Toledo; beautiful Moorish buildings are in Arévalo (Ávila) and Cuellar (Segovia), while the towers of this style are very good (Sahagun, lllescas, Toledo, etc.); the superb ones of Teruel, graceful and polychrome, contain more Gothic elements.

Spain Romanesque Arts in the 11th and 12th Century