Without any doubt, the wall paintings of the hermitage of Vera Cruz de Maderuelo in Segovia, are one of the most outstanding examples of Romanesque painting in the Iberian Peninsula.
Special mention deserves what are perhaps two of the best-known scenes of the whole set located on the wall that closes the head and which represent the scenes of the Creation of Man and Original Sin.
In the creation scene we find the figures of Adam and God the Father, their strange position is determined by the law of adaptation to the frame; the two figures meet in a strange genuflection, arranged in an empty space that offers no reference to the viewer. Regarding the anatomical composition of Adam, we must point out how the artist draws numerous lines that describe the musculature of the first man and section his body in such a way that realism and naturalism are far from this representation.
In the Original Sin scene, Adam and Eve appear flanking the tree of knowledge where the demon in the form of a snake appears coiled offering Eve the forbidden fruit.
Adam appearswith his hand on his throat as medieval iconography dictates,with this gesture the first man repents of his sin. With the other hand Adam appears holding a fig leaf in order to cover his naked body, the same posture is takenby Eva since by committing the Original Sin in both the purity disappears and they are aware of their nudity for the first time.
Alongside the figures of the first men, two inscriptions appear behind Adam, we find the letters ATM, which has been interpreted by experts as the acronym for the Latin expression “Adam was dragged to death”, under the figure of Eve the letters ATEV allude to the fact that Adam gave life to Eve.
In the rest of the walls the apostles appear seated next to each other, they are carrying different objects and their gestures are hieratic, like the whole group. In this area, the influences that Byzantine art has on Maderuelo are notable, the figures appear sheltered by architectural spaces with porticoes and columns. In this way, the fact that the Italo-Byzantine current influenced the works of Maderuelo seems plausible, surely the guidelines of this stylistic current penetrated the Iberian Peninsula through the Camino de Santiago so that in a certain sense we also find a nexus of union between the paintings of the Tahull area and those that concern us here.
But without a doubt, if the Romanesque paintings of the Vera Cruz hermitage in Maderuelo seem to be influenced by another work, this would be without a doubt the paintings of San Baudelio de Berlanga; this is so to the point that many art historians hold the thesis that both wall paintings were made by the same workshop.
Be that as it may, the truth is that inMaderuelo we find some of the most important Romanesque paintings of the time despite the simplicity of the small hermitage that shelters them.