This is the second and final part to Gothic tombs and sculptures of this period. Sacred Sunday is a continuing series on Crash Course.
In Catalonia, Gothic sculpture begins with Master Bartomeu, author of this marble statue of the Virgin on the center pier of the main porch of Tarragona cathedral (c. 1277). This extraordinarily delicate figure is carved in a style that can best be described as idealized archaism.
The picture shows the decorated south portal of the Basilica of San Vicente at Ávila.
The Coroneria (Coronation) Door is in the north wall of the transept of the Burgos Cathedral. It is probably the work of Master Enrique (died 1277), architect, sculptor, designer, master builder of the Cathedral of León. The style is more Spanish than that of the sculpture around the Sarmental Door, doubless the most ancient of the Burgos Cathedral.
The side door of the cathedral contains low-reliefs representing the Conception of Our Lady.
The finely decorated door leads from the Cathedral to the Cloister.
The columns and galleries of the cloister are adorned with groups of statues that illustrate the diversity of Gothic sculpture of the period. The group representing Alfonso X and his wife is especially noteworthy. In these figures the idea of a portrait has been fully realized without detracting from the strictly plastic values.
The sculpture of the upper cloister at Burgos Cathedral belongs to the end of the 13th century. In this case, the influence of Reims is decisive and combines with reflections of the Amiens style. The figure of Queen Beatrix of Swabia shows the Spanish sculptor typically assimilating outside influences and yet arriving at something characteristically Spanish. With its air of authority and its realism, it stands midway between the calm nobility of the Reims Queen of Sheba and the sharp Countess Uta or the harsh Gerburg at Naumburg Cathedral.
Portada de la Virgen Blanca is the west portal of the Leon Cathedral. The of west porch appears to be derived from Chartres; but the sculpture itself relates first to Burgos and then back to France (probably to Amiens and Reims).
The detail shows the Last Judgment in the Tympanum of the main (west) door of the Cathedral.
In the Cathedral of León, the range of sculpture, from the second half of the thirteenth century, is even broader than at Burgos. The three doors of the west front with its portico, the transept doors, and the interior with its beautiful funerary monuments represent a cross-section of the plastic arts of the early Gothic. Clearly there were three principal sculptors, whose personalities are distinctly expressed. The foremost of the three, to whom the more important groups were entrusted, is none other than the man who carved the statues for the Coronería Door in Burgos cathedral.
His stone image of the Virgin and Child, known as the White Virgin (Virgen Blanca), is one of the finest sculptures ever made in Spain. The noble severity of his style stands opposed to the greater freedom and imagination of the second of the three sculptors of León, known only as the Master of the Last Judgment, whose narrative poetry is very personal and profoundly Spanish. The third master carved the apostles on the jambs of the south door and many statues in the main façade. The style of this artist is more restrained, closer to the manner of the French masters from Amiens who carved the Sarmental Door at Burgos.
The Virgen Blanca or Nuestra Señora la Blanca of the west portal of Leon Cathedral is the masterpiece of a certain Enrico, who died in 1277. He worked at Burgos and at Leon, and though he must have been trained at Amiens, he transformed the stylized grace of his masters’ 13th century French Gothic art into something more picturesque and anecdotal. The drapery folds are more broken, more angular, the Virgin is pleasant and kindly, and her Son, a lively and mischievous ‘niño’.
During the thirteenth century, the introduction of the Gothic style by artists from the north of France was paralleled by an independent evolution toward the new forms. This was characterized by lingering traces of the Romanesque, particularly a certain archaism and a taste for the ornamental interpretation of structure and detail. One of the best demonstrations of the potentialities of this art is the tomb of the Infante Don Felipe (died 1274) and his wife, Leonor Rodríguez de Castro, in Villalcázar de Sirga.
The faces of the tomb are carved with scenes of mourning, set between bands of heraldic ornament. The two recumbent figures, both of great beauty, reveal the sculptor’s interest in the details of dress, though at no time does he lose sight of the general design. This work is attributed to the sculptor Antón Pérez de Carrión and is remarkable for its freshness and originality.
The Gothic cathedral at Burgo de Osma was begun in 1232, the sculpture in the main portal was installed between 1250 and 1275. The jamb-piers are divided into two registers, the lower decorated with blind arcading, and the upper with a series of figures from the Old and New Testaments. These prophets, kings and queens are the work of an artrist who knew the art of Burgos but not French cathedral sculpture.
The proportions are more compact than those of contemporary French figures, the faces schematic, and the draperies coarser in treatment. This simpler, low-keyed provincial art is at several removes from its model, the series of kings and prophets at Reims.