The Monastery Treasures: Monastery of Pedralbes.

Back to the lovely monastery  of Pedralbes in Barcelona, which is a delightful place to visit and includes an exhibition of the Monastery Treasures. The founder of the monastery, Queen Elisenda of Montcada, created a convent of great spiritual and cultural importance. Her wealth, and that of the women who entered the convent, who had a high social background, brought valuable contributions to its assets.

…presents a unique collection of works of art, furniture, and secular and liturgical objects from the monastery treasure, built up, conserved and restored over the centuries by the Poor Clare community.

All of the paintings in this factitious altarpiece are the work of artists active in Catalonia during the first half of the 16th century.

Factitious Altarpiece of Saint Magdalene. 1540-1560

The upper elements of the piece below are panels of a triptych, in which the side panels were the doors.

Factitious altarpiece acquired by the abbess Sister Teresa de Cardona 1540-1560
Mother of God. end of 15th century

The most notable piece of this factitious set is the Virgin with the child in a landscape (bottom right), which may be attributed to Joachim Patinir and his workshop.

Factitious altarpiece of the cell of St John the Baptist. 1540-1560
Sculpture of St John (unknown artist) Mid 16th century

Towards the end of the 15th century the monastery entered a period of reforms driven by Ferdinand II of Aragon. Life in the cloistered community became stricter. At the same time the importation of Flemish artwork into Catalonia took place as close trade relations were formed between the Spanish and northern Europe.

Factitious altarpiece bearing the Rocaberti family coat of arms

The most significant piece of this factitious work is the Announcement (top left)  which may be attributed to an unknown Flemish artist known as the Master of the Legend of Saint Catherine. The domestic interiors are reminiscent of the Jan van Eyck models that Van der Weyden had reproduced.

The Announcement
Saint Apollonia, unknown artist

‘Factitious’ altarpieces combine pictorial and occasionally, sculptural sections of different provenance and styles. So we find Spanish and Flemish works side by side. The tableaus have often been trimmed to size to fit into the new structure. They were generally made in the mid-sixteenth century and inspiration for their manufacture may have come from the classicist architecture at the time. Three of them preserve the heraldry of the nuns who paid for their production or owned them.

Altarpiece of St Peter 1570-1585

Of a similar format to the factitious pieces of Pedralbes, this is a unitary collection. Its paintings may be attributed to the Catalan artist Joan Mates.

Virgin with the Child and an Angel 1530-1550

The two central figures derive from a model by Jan Gossaert while the added angel and landscape is an idea from Pieter Coecke van Aelst.

Altarpiece of the Adoration of the Kings 1475

A factitious triptych with doors added to the central relief. A work of art from the Italian Renaissance was exceptional. The relief which feature the Adoration of the Kings but with an Announcement to the shepherds in the background, is made from the characteristic glazed terracotta of the Florentine workshop of the Della Robbia family.

Adoration of the Kings
Diptych of the Mother of God, the Milk-Giver and the Pity of Christ c1500s

This diptych is one of the characteristic formats of “devotional painting” of the former Low Countries. The unknown painter probably had a workshop in which such paintings were almost mass-produced, exploiting models tracing back indirectly to the works of Rogier van der Weyden.

Sagrada Familia – Holy Family with the young St John

The descriptive tendency and open window in the background point to a Nordic artist of discreet quality with knowledge of Italian Renaissance as regards typologies and body language.

Epiphany Altarpiece 1533-1536

The sculptures in the niches of this altarpiece may have been lost in the Spanish Civil War. The relief of the Epiphany comes from the workshop of Damia Forment. The coat of arms links this to Sister Teresa de Cardona who was the first cousin of King Ferdinand II.

By the beginning of the seventeenth century the community in Pedralbes had witnessed a gradual but relentless decline in their income. Subsidies from King Phillip II and aid from the Council of the One Hundred assisted them in building the infirmary and renewing their cloisters. The Catalan Revolt of 1640 worsened their position as did the 18th century War of the Spanish Succession. At the end of that century further royal donations came to their assistance and helped to renovate and improve the building and the liturgical ornamentations. Despite the precarious financial situations the nuns would not renounce the maintenance and renewal of their liturgical adornments and some interesting works of art were purchased during this time.

Please visit the website of the monastery to find more about this exhibition.

Thursday’s Special

On a rather damp and grey day in Barcelona my daughter and I decided to take the Tourist Bus and see the city at leisure. One place we wanted to stop off at and have a look was the Monastery or Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes in the north-west of the city. Due to road closures we had to disembark at the Palau Reial-Pavellons Guell and walk up the Avenue Pedralbes to the monastery. No great hardship.

The Royal Monastery of St Mary of Pedralbes, founded by Queen Elisenda de Montcada in 1327, stands as a unique historical and cultural testament to the Poor Clare community who lived there continuously from 1327 until just recently.

The different rooms are grouped around the three-storey Gothic cloister. They include St Michael’s Chapel, the dormitory, refectory, kitchen, infirmary, storerooms, abbey room and chapter house, plus various day cells.

The chapel of St Michael is decorated with a magnificent series of murals, which according to two contracts dating from 1343 and 1346 were a commission given to the painter Ferrer Bassa by the Abbess Francesa ça Portella, who wanted to make the room her private cell. They have recently been re-opened to the public after a ten year period of restoration.

The Sepulchre of Queen Elisenda de Montcada (c. 1292-1364), consists of a marble, two-sided tomb occupying two storeys of the cloister within an arcosolium (an arched recess used as a place of entombment).

The medicinal garden of the cloister is a representation of how the medieval herb garden would have looked. Considered the world’s largest Gothic cloister, it has two galleries with twenty-six columns on each side made of nummulitic stone – limestone containing fossil remains – from Girona, and a third upper gallery added later.

The exhibition “The Monastery of Pedralbes – The Monastery Treasures” is located in the old dormitory. I will show some of the exhibits in a separate post as they are quite unique.

There is so much to see including the abbey room and the refectory, that we could have stayed much longer. I would recommend that you make time to visit this wonderful place if you are in Barcelona. There is much more to the city than Gaudí .

It is easy to reach by public transport, buses  H4, 63 and 78, as well as the Blue Tourist Bus.

The Monastery of Pedralbes site gives you a lot more information about the monastery and Queen Elisenda de Montcada.

Paula’s (Lost in Translation) challenge this week is Traces of the Past

U for Ursuline Monastery

frizztext hosts a weekly A – Z Challenge

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Event Type: General Blogging

Start Date: Tuesdays, recurring weekly

Description: Every Tuesday I offer the “A to Z challenge”, walking step by step through the alphabet.

If you would like to join in then please click here

ursuline-monastery-1

The Ursuline Monastery in Solvenia’s young capital, Ljubljana and the Holy Trinity Parish Church  was commissioned by Jakob Schell von Schellenburg, a wealthy local merchant and financier, and his wife Ana Katarina. During the construction of the Trg republike square, the Monastery underwent a thorough reconstruction and its garden was completely destroyed. 

Its undulating façade enhanced by semi-columns and a characteristic gable inspired by the famous Roman architect Francesco Borromini make it one of Ljubljana’s most beautiful and extraordinary example of Baroque architecture.

U---ursuline-monastery-2

In front is the Holy Trinity Column erected in 1693 as a thanks offering for the city having been spared from the plague.

U---Ursuline-Monastery-rough-pastelsand given the number of windows in this beautiful building I am linking this to Dawn’s Lingering Windows Challenge.