Catalan art

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Catalan art

Catalan art (kăt´əlăn,–lən). In Catalonia and the territories of the counts of Barcelona, art flowered in the early Middle Ages and continued to flourish through the Renaissance. Some of the finest surviving altar-panel paintings of the Romanesque period are Catalan. Many of these are preserved in the Museo del Parque, Barcelona, together with numerous frescoes transferred from the apses of Romanesque churches. The small churches, often bare of sculptural ornament, were elaborately painted throughout, although usually only the decoration of the apse has survived. A fine example from Santa María del Mar, Barcelona, is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Superb examples of architectural sculpture also exist in many Catalan churches of the period. Also Romanesque is the famous illuminated Bible from the abbey of Farfa, now in the Vatican. Catalan art shares most of the characteristics of the international Romanesque style. A more obviously regional character is found in the Catalan painting of the 14th cent. and in the work of Ferrer Bassa and Jaime Serra, although Sienese influence is noteworthy. With the 15th cent., particularly in the paintings of Jaime Huguet, of Jaime Rafael, and Pablo Vergós, and of other masters, the school reached its maturity in a profuse and highly decorative religious art of great beauty. Only with Luis Dalmáu in the middle of the century did direct Flemish influence appear, and it never gained ascendancy. The great period of Catalan painting as such ended with the 15th cent., although the province has never ceased to produce great individual artists. Several prominent artists of the 20th cent. were of Catalonian origin, notably Juan Gris, Joan Miró, and Salvador Dalí.

See C. R. Post, A History of Spanish Painting (9 vol., 1930–47), Vol. VII; G. Kubler and M. Soria, Art and Architecture in Spain and Portugal (1959).

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