Photos of the sumptuous Romanesque Catalan Wood panel paintings from the medieval churches of Catalonia. This world famous collection is housed in the National Art Museum of Catalonia, Barcelona, and is truly a spectacular example of Romanesque art. Whole apse and aisle frescoes were saved in the early 20th century and reconstructed in the museum. The style of the art is endearing and the abstractions it uses must have influenced the great Catalan artists.
Photos of sumptuous Romanesque Catalan Wood Panel Paintings.
The MNAC’s ( Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya) Eleventh and Twelfth century collection of Romanesque panel painting is one of the most important in the world, and is a beautiful testimony to the importance of the production of polychrome liturgical furniture in medieval Catalonia. The most significant works are the altar frontals, some complete with side panels, which show the extensive range of Romanesque iconography. Painted beams enrich the range of pieces in the collection.
In the eleventh century painted altar fronts and liturgical furniture offered an affordable alternative to expensive furniture decorated with precious metals for less the less wealthy churches of Northern Spai. The high quality of the Romanesque Catalan painters suggests that they may have been a trained in cathedral or monastic scriptoria. The wood panels and beams are painted with Tempera, also known as egg tempera, which is a permanent, fast-drying painting medium consisting of colored pigment mixed with a water-soluble binder medium (usually a glutinous material such as egg yolk or some other size). The Romanesque altar fronts follow popular themes of the Middle ages. Christ Pantocrator or In Majesty is a popular icon based on the Byzantine Roman iconography. The image is known as a Theophany, in which Christ is revealed as God. He is surrounded by a vertical eye shaped aureola called a mandorla which also originated from Byzantium. The Theophany is usually surrounded by a Tetramorph with the four symbols of the Evangelists - Mathew depicted as a man, Mark as a lion, Luke as a Bull and John as an Eagle. On other Romanesque Catalan altar fronts the Virgin Mary and Child take centre stage.
The iconography also follows the Byzantine rules known as the Virgin Hodegetria, which is an iconographic depiction of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) holding the Child Jesus at her side while pointing to Him as the source of salvation for mankind. In the Western Church this type of icon is sometimes called Our Lady of the Way. The Romanesque Panel paintings from the MNAC show a high level of skill that was influenced directly by Byzantine Roman art and it is possible that some of the workshops of Catalonia were run by Greek Icon painters. The paintings were made before the final schism between the Orthodox Eastern and Roman Catholic churches so influences imported from the East would have been quite acceptable at the time. Photos of the Romanesque pictures can be downloaded or bought as photo art prints on line from this photo gallery.