Analysis and Interpretation of Mid-12th Century Christian Romanesque Artwork
This essay will analyze and interpret the style and technique of a mid-12th century Christian fresco painting that once filled the apse of a monastery church in a Catalonia, Spain (Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Christ in Majesty with Symbols of the Four Evangelists). The Romanesque piece depicts Christ with several influential Christian figures and is composed in a style similar to paintings that thrived throughout regions of Western Europe in the beginning of the second millennium. The iconic artwork communicates that Christ and his message are of utmost significance, reflecting the cultural shift in ...view middle of the document...
In the right passageway, Abraham holds a hatchet with his son Isaac, Rebecca and the symbolic hand of God, expressing sacrifice. The four apostles occupy the center of the middle register, and are shown in a frontal, columnar pose, wearing geometrically squared robes to convey strength and support. This is in contrast to the Four Evangelists and eight remaining apostles, who assuredly disseminate the gospel, in some cases holding bibles or manuscripts.
Vividly portrayed, there are scenes of mortal man in the bottom register; life’s challenges and divine intervention. There is a scenes of Saint Joseph clutching his face, labeled as “Joseph” in the painting; a younger man reclined with a hand out (his lower half is missing due to deterioration); a calf’s head; a scroll; and an angel assisting a couple. The angel has a facial expression and head tilt signifying purpose, as he is about to perform a significant and imminent act of redemption.
Complementing the register position is hierarchy of scale in each figure’s proportion in relation to other human forms. As the central figure, Christ is approximately two times larger than the Four Evangelists are, which are approximately three times larger than the apostles are. Their elongated tubular pose and large halos accentuate their size in comparison to the mortals, angels and Saints in the bottom register.
Venturing towards the nape of the church toward the apse, the dramatic color and patterns of the fresco would immediately catch the viewer’s eye. The unknown artist achieves this effect with an opulent gold background rich in red and yellow tones with expressive geometric patterns on the ground line supporting Christ and the oval border surrounding Christ. The ground line consists of an “h” shaped geometric pattern of blue, gold and red. The inconsistent application of red and yellow colors on the “h” pattern renders the dramatic effect of an open flame, which accentuates the black background. The almond-shaped mandorla surrounding Christ is multi-colored and outlined by a large black ripple pattern. As the black ripples grow larger in the middle of the border, they amplify Christ’s presence as the central figure. The ripple shaped mandorla brilliantly transitions Christ’s power and presence to the Four Evangelist’s and includes the Four Evangelists with Christ as central figures.
Situated or standing before the alter of the church of Santa Maria del Mur, the apostles would be in the viewer’s direct line of sight. The mandorla and...