Paintings of Saint Fructuoso de Bierge

Paintings of Saint Fructuoso de Bierge
Paintings of Saint Fructuoso de Bierge

In a small town in the province of Huesca there is a Romanesque church that houses one of the most interesting pictorial ensembles in art medieval spanish. It is true that they are much more famous Romanesque works such as the mural paintings of Tahull or those of the Collegiate Church of San Isidoro de León. But what distinguishes these paintings from the hermitage of San Fructuoso de Bierge is that they represent the transition from Romanesque to Gothic art.


Saint Fructuoso de Bierge Wall Paintings

A work in which two different artists are also distinguished. Both worked here in the second half of the 13th century, and in both cases they are anonymous, so they are simply known as Bierge's First and Second Master.

This is a whole cycle of paintings centered on the lives of Saint Nicholas of Bari, Saint John the Evangelist and the saint of the temple, Saint Fructuoso.

The oldest are the ones in the highest area. Like Calvary for example. A whole repertoire in which each scene is perfectly delimited in quadrangular registers. It may somehow remind us of vignettes, and in fact that way of ordering the painting is linked to the illuminated books of the time.

But the most interesting thing is the stylistic features that unite it with the incipient linear Gothic art that has reached these lands. They are paintings with somevery vivid colors, and each color spot is perfectly limited by the silhouette of the drawing. An element that undoubtedly links painting with an art closely related to the Gothic: stained glass, where each colored glass is surrounded by the metal frame that supports it. But in painting, that line also becomes an element of union, since it gives rhythm and sinuosity to the forms.

Regarding the previous Romanesque art it can be seen that there is less hieraticism in the figures, which now begin to interrelate with each other and with the environment. Besides that they are much more expressive.

Unfortunately, the set of the medieval paintings of Bierge have not survived in their entirety and together to this day. Some of these works were uprooted and looted in the 20th century, and in pieces they were sold both to individuals and to large museums. So today some of these pieces are exhibited in places as disparate as the National Art Museum of Catalonia in Barcelona or in many others farther away both in Canada like from United States.

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