The promoters and the artists

Museu Nacional Art Catalunya | Promotors

The promoters and the artists


The promoters and the artists

The initiative of the constructions was mainly carried out by the counts and church authorities, and the nobility, which they financed mostly through donations.  A good example  of this are the paintings of the apse from the church of the monastery of Santa Maria del Burgal, in which, in addition to the biblical characters, there is a representation of the promoter and the count’s family: the Countess Llúcia, wife of Count Arnau I of Pallars Sobirà. She appears with an offering attitude, looking respectful, in accordance with the solemn moment of the offering.   

The monumental portal of Ripoll is another good example of the importance of the promoters.  Its extensive sculptural programme can have a sense beyond the strictly religious one to evoke the consecration of the church by the abbot Oliba, in 1032, who was an entrepreneur of major constructing activity that is evident in the importance of Ripoll as a monastic centre of international relevance.  

The architect or the master builder, along with the workshops or sculptors and painters, worked according to the initiative of the promoter and following a defined programme, by contributing their capacity for carrying out the project and their technical mastery.  The artists did their work based on established models, despite the fact that it was also necessary to accept some margins of creativity.  Furthermore, it is known that some of them were integrated in the communities.  Unlike in more recent times, it is easier to know the names of the promoters and not those of the artists, a situation that wouldn’t change until Gothic art.  


To know more

One of the few whose name we know in Catalonia was the sculptor Arnau Cadell, who represented himself by sculpting a capitol in the cloister of Sant Cugat del Vallès. Later on, well into the 13th century, the Aragon frontal of Gia contains an inscription with the name of the author, Joan, a gesture that must be interpreted as a sign of self-affirmation and pride.  

Art historians use the term master to designate the author of a work or series of works stylistically related.  The nature itself of the works determined that the architects, stone sculptors and mural painters had to travel around, working from one place to another, attending to the commissions they received.  But there were also stable workshops, as it is known from the production of enamels that came from Limoges.    

These studios, workshops and itinerant artistic groups were located close to the most important seats of the dioceses and the major abbeys, which were their main clients.  We know almost nothing about the workshops that worked in Catalonia in the Romanesque period.  Only, and as a hypothesis, the existence is talked about of a workshop based on stylistic affinities or techniques in various works.  In Catalonia there was talk of supposed workshops such as those of Ripoll, the Seu d'Urgell, Vic or Girona.