“One of the greatest collection of Gothic art can be found in the National Museum of Catalan Art in Barcelona. The collection focuses on Catalan Gothic art and comprises wonderful tryptic panels, Gothic sculptures and Gothic paintings. An incredible collection and I hope you enjoy my photos”, Paul Williams.
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Photos of the Gothic Art of The Catalan Art Museum Barcelona
One of the most spectacular and important collections of Gothic art can be found in the Catalan Gothic artworks in the National Museum of Catalan Art in Barcelona, Spain. The collection of Gothic art shows Gothic sculpture and paintings from the 13th to 15th century. There are important sculptures in the Gothic collection by Jaume Cascalls and Pere Sanglada, and the paintings Pere Serra, Lluís Borrassà, Bernat Martorell and Jaume Huguet. The artworks cover works from different stylistic phases using the various different techniques (mural paintings; panel paintings; stone, ivory and wood sculpture; metalworking and enamels).
The name Gothic was first used to describe the architecture and art of northern Europe by Florentine historiographer Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574). This was not a term of endearment by the Florentine who saw the Gothic style as Barbaric when compared to the classic revival architecture of the Italian Renaissance. Gothic architecture saw the great cathedrals of France rise to unprecedented heights dwarfing the earlier Romanesque churches and Abbeys. So infectious was the style that the Italians could not resist joining in on the new Gothic style and even the Duomo of Florence embraced the Gothic when it was rebuilt, all be it an Italian version of the Gothic with less flamboyant architectural embellishments that its north European rivals.
Gothic art though has traditionally been dwarfed by what are seen to be the greater masterpieces of the Renaissance. Collections like the Gothic art collection at the National Museum of Catalan Art (MNAC) show that the master artists of the Gothic were as accomplished as the later Renaissance masters.
Gothic art emerged in Île-de-France, France, in the early 12th century at the Abbey Church of St Denis built by Abbot Suger it is hardly surprising then that the best early examples of Gothic art are religious in nature. The earliest Gothic art was monumental sculpture, on the walls of Cathedrals and abbeys. Christian art was often typological in nature, showing the stories of the New Testament and the Old Testament side by side. Saints’ lives were often depicted. Images of the Virgin Mary changed from the Byzantine iconic form to a more human and affectionate mother, cuddling her infant, swaying from her hip, and showing the refined manners of a well-born aristocratic courtly lady.
The Catalan Gothic style is tied closely to French Gothic although there ere influences from Italy as can be seen in the the Triptych of Sant Vicenç d’Estopanyà, probably by an immigrant Italian artist, and altarpieces by the Serra brothers. The Serra family were highly influential in steering the course of Catalan painting during the closing decades of the 14th century.
One of the great Catalan Gothic sculptors was Jaume Cascalla (died 1378) who was born in Berga. Cascalla was director of construction of the La Seu Vella cathedral in Lleida (1360) after which he moved to to the Cathedral of Tarragona. He also executed several polychrome marble figures for the Ripoll Monastery and sculptures for the Cathedral of Girona. Jaume Cascalls is one of the most important sculptors of the fourteenth century in Catalonia. This is borne out by his involvement over almost thirty years with the project of the royal pantheon in Poblet for King Peter the Ceremonious and with other large undertakings of the time. Today, on stylistic grounds, he is credited with this ‘Head of Christ’, which must have formed part of a sculptural group of the Holy Sepulchre, presumably from the church of the convent of Sant Agustí Vell in Barcelona. The break in the neck suggests it belonged to a full-length recumbent Christ, like the one kept at Sant Feliu in Girona and also attributed to Cascalls. The Head of Christ by Jaume Cascalls in the MNAC Gothic collection is an incredible piece of realistic sculpture depicting Christ dead.
The collection go Gothic art at MNAC shows the development of the Gothic style from its stylistically naive beginnings to the great accomplishments of Jaume Cascalla. Like its Romanesque predecessor Gothic paintings are still two dimensional and heavily steeped in the iconography of the Roman Byzantine Empire that did not fall until 1453. The Head of Christ by Jaume Cascalls heralds the realistic humanist style of the Renaissance that will overtake the Gothic style in popularity. The detailed design in Gothic paintings shows that for the aristocracy and the Church the Gothic period was a bright vibrant period with richly decorated textiles and artworks and the revival in interest in Gothic art is well deserved.
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