23 October 2006

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


Medieval art in Santa María de Tudela

Dr. Javier Martínez de Aguirre.
Complutense University of Madrid

Villaespesa Sepulchre. Tudela Cathedral

Villaespesa Sepulchre. Tudela Cathedral

At the lecture "Medieval art in Santa María de Tudela", which forms part of the cycle "The recovery of a heritage: the Cathedral of Tudela", Javier Martínez de Aguirre, lecturer at the Complutense University of Madrid, gave an overview of the medieval works that have been restored or enhanced thanks to the interventions carried out in recent years.
The excavations carried out in most of the temple and its surroundings have yielded different archaeological finds that allow for a re-reading of the ground plan and the construction phases. In the same line, the possibility of accessing previously inaccessible places by means of scaffolding has favoured a better knowledge of the walls and the rest of the construction elements. For fill in the information, a detailed review of the oldest documentation (12th and 13th centuries) has been undertaken, from which it is possible to contrast the veracity of the different proposals regarding the date of consecration and what this ceremony meant as evidence of the progress of the works. 

Santa María de Tudela is a fundamental building in the late Romanesque period in Navarre. The extent to which its architectural solutions derive from the monastery of La Oliva and the extent to which its first architect introduced novelties appropriate to the circumstance of being an urban collegiate church have been verified and detailed. Also of great interest is the way in which a later architect, the one who took up the work again in the time of Theobald I (around 1235), was able to adapt his intervention to the pre-existence, incorporating the novel solutions typical of the great Gothic cathedrals which he applied to the windows of the main nave and transept, thus achieving the luminosity so characteristic of the church in Tudela.

The presence of heraldic emblems in different parts of the church is a factor of great interest when it comes to understanding the church's construction, development . Figures and coats of arms testify to the participation in the financing of the works of both some notable families from Tudela and the Navarrese monarchy itself. 

A third period of splendour took place around 1400, when the chapels of the chancel and other areas of the old collegiate church were chosen as a privileged burial place. Deans, canons and nobles commissioned altarpieces and sepulchres, with first-rate works such as the Villaespesa Chapel. The recovery of the polychromy of its sepulchre and that of Sánchez de Oteiza is a new incentive for the visit of this singular temple, which is added to the excellent presentation of the Gothic altarpieces derived from their restoration over the course of various campaigns.