Ápse San Clemente de Tahull

Ápse San Clemente de Tahull
Ápse San Clemente de Tahull

The Church of San Clemente de Taull is located in the Bohí valley, province of Lérida. It is a Romanesque style church with Lombard influence, with three longitudinal naves and a front wall topped with three apses.

In the central apse of this church we find one of the best representations of the plastic Romanesque in the Iberian Peninsula. It is possible that the artist who made the work had an Italian origin, which would explain the Byzantine influence in these paintings; It also seems likely that this same artist worked on other churches in the Bohí valley, such as Santa María de Tahull.

Apse San Clemente de Tahull

The work is carried out on a quarter sphere vault that measures approximately 4 meters. The technique used is a combination of fresco and tempera, which perhaps explains the significant losses that the work has suffered.

In the upper part, the Maiestas Dominii, a typical Romanesque Christ in majesty, is located in the celestial vault. He is aPantocratorthat is, Christ seated in an attitude of blessing as Chronocrator and Cosmocrator (lord of time and space). In his left hand he carries a large book that reads EGO SUM LUX MUNDI, I am the light of the world. He is depicted in a mystical almond namedmandorla. On the sides of Christ appear the Greek letters alpha and omega,alluding to the condition of Christ as the beginning and end of all things.

Appears surrounded by the Tetramorphs, the four evangelists with their symbols: Saint Matthew represented by the angel refers to the incarnation, Saint Luke represented by the bull to the passion, San Marcos with the lion refers to the resurrection and finally San Juan with the eagle to the ascension of Christ. The top set is completed by two six-winged seraphim.

In the lower part we see a frieze that is distributed in two groups separated by a small opening that illuminates the apse, in which the Apostles and the Virgin are represented. On one side Saint Thomas, Saint Bartholomew and the Virgin, on the other Saint James, Saint John, and Saint Philip whose figure has almost completely disappeared today. The Apostles each carry a book, while Mary holds a chalice that refers to the Holy Grail. The figures are depicted under segmental arches supported by columns.

This iconographic ensemble, so often repeated in the Romanesque period, is taken from a passage in the Apocalypse of Saint John.

With the exception of the tetramorphs and the seraphim who turn towards Christ, the figures display a large frontality staring at the viewer. They are hierarchical figures, which do not show any type of feeling and are only governed by one type of perspective, the hierarchical perspective, which represents the larger figures (Christ)

The figures adapt to the architectural framework thatit houses with twists and impossible postures, however small details such as the hand that blesses or the feet of Christ that rest on a small world, begin to escape the frame.

The two-dimensionality governs the whole, it is a flat painting, in which there are no backgrounds to place the characters. The outline of the figures appears outlined in black, the line predominating over the color, which is only used as a fill.. The colors are pure and bright, highlighting above all the earthy and blue tones, spread evenly.

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