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Altar Frontal

Date:
ca. 1225
Geography:
Made in Catalonia, Spain
Culture:
Catalan
Medium:
Wood with gesso, canvas, paint
Dimensions:
Overall: 37 3/4 x 58 x 2 3/4 in. (95.9 x 147.3 x 7 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture-Wood
Credit Line:
The Cloisters Collection, 1925
Accession Number:
25.120.256
  • Description

    The altar, before which the Mass is celebrated, is the most important piece of liturgical furnishing within a church. In a large church there are often many altars—the high altar, in the choir, and several more in various chapels and other spaces. At the center of this altar frontal from the church of Ginestarre de Cardós are the Enthroned Virgin and Child encircled by a mandorla, which is supported by four angels (the bottom two damaged). Eight apostles, haloed and standing under round arches, accompany the central group. Painted inscriptions along the upper border give the names of six saints: Simon, Jude, Matthew, John, Thomas, and Barnabas. The composition is surrounded by a procession of prancing lions, each enclosed in a roundel. The bottom edge is missing.

    This altar frontal was decorated using a technique that sought to imitate the gold or silver frontals made for large cathedrals or wealthy monasteries. To achieve the luxurious appearance of the enamels and gemstones often set into more elaborate examples, the design was molded in low relief in gesso and then embellished with paint.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: SANTVS SI[ ]O IVDA S MATVS IOHS S S[ ] O[ ]S [ ] BRABE

  • Provenance

    From the parish church of Ginestarre de Cardós, Lérida; Juan Cuyás , Barcelona ; Gaspar Homar , Barcelona ; George Grey Barnard American, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 1863–1938 New York , New York (until 1925)

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
472323

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