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Romanesque Sculpture in Catalonia

Christ de Mig-Aran, Atelier d'Erill, 12th to 13th century, Sant Miquel de Vielha, Val d'Aran, SpainHere's an exhibit I would really like to see, reviewed in an article (Sculptures romanes en majesté, October 1) by Anne Muratori-Philip for Le Figaro, called Catalogne romane, Sculptures du Val de Boì, at the Musée national du Moyen Age, in the Thermes de Cluny in Paris. There are some fifteen wooden statues with polychrome on display in the frigidarium there, along with some fresco reproductions. The exhibit was conceived in 2001, when the Cluny Museum acquired the statue of a Woman Saint, probably originating in the same sculptural workshop, leading curators to conduct research looking for examples for comparison. This is the first time the sculptures have been reunited.

Sculpture is only a small part of the richness of the Boì Valley, known more for its Romanesque mural paintings in Sant Climent de Taüll, Santa Maria de Taüll, and Sant Joan de Boì. How could the Boì Valley, a ravishing narrow valley surrounded by the Spanish Pyrenees, anchored in northwestern Catalonia, have known such an exceptional artistic blossoming in the 12th century? Thanks to its lords, the Erill's, vassals of the kings of Aragon, who took part in the Reconquest. Strengthened by their newly acquired power, they financed the construction of parish churches and small chapels (between the first half of the 11th century and the first half of the 12th century), until the Boì Valley became part of the possessions of the See of Urgell.
Check out these highlight images from the exhibit. It will be in Paris until January 3, 2005, when it will travel to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, from January 18 to March 20, 2005. In a companion article (Pèlerinage au val de Boì, October 1), Muratori-Philip discusses the Romanesque sites in Catalonia.

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