20 February 2008

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


Enamels in Navarre

Dr. María Luisa Martín Ansón.
Autonomous University of Madrid

At the beginning of the 11th century, the political and geographical panorama of Christian Spain was divided into three areas: the Catalan counties, the kingdom of Navarre with its expansion into La Rioja and Aragon, and the kingdom of León with the lands of Galicia and Castile, unified by Fernando I. In all the territories there is evidence of excavated enamels, as is the case, in Navarre, of the Tapa de Evangeliario or perhaps part of a reliquary of Queen Felicia (+1085), wife of Sancho IV. In addition to the physical presence of these pieces, there are other works of great importance that we know about through descriptions that provide information about the enamels they contained. Thus, for example, Yepes informs us about the Frontal Nuestra Señora in Santa María la Real de Nájera, and Ambrosio de Morales provides information about the Arca containing the relics of San Isidoro.

Two of the most significant works of enamel work date from the second half of the 12th century: the frontal or urn of Santo Domingo de Silos and the altarpiece of San Miguel de Aralar.

"Enamel frontispiece. 12th century. Sanctuary of San Miguel de Aralar (Navarre).

"Enamel frontispiece. 12th century. Sanctuary of San Miguel de Aralar (Navarre).

The presence of Limoges enamels in Navarre is clearly evident, such as the Virgin of Artajona. Unfortunately, the tombs of Theobald I, commissioned from Limoges by his son Theobald II, which was apparently their custom, and of particular richness that of Theobald III, and presumably also that of Henry I, have not come down to us, although some fragments may be assumed to have been reused in the Ark of San Formerio (Bañares). Navarre's contacts with the French monarchy (Philip the Handsome married to Joan of Navarre) have enabled the reliquary of the Holy Sepulchre, an exceptional work of French goldsmithery, to be kept in Pamplona Cathedral. Likewise, the reliquary of the Lignum Crucis, a gift from Manuel II Palaeologus to Charles III the Noble, is a good example of 14th century French Gothic, sample.

From the Montpellier workshop comes the reliquary, known as 'Charlemagne's Chess set', from the second half of the 14th century, an example of the technique of translucent enamel on silver.

As a work of Navarrese enamellery, we include the chalice that Charles III the Noble gave to Santa María de Ujué on the occasion of his pilgrimage on foot with his daughters and Queen Leonor to the aforementioned sanctuary. It is a masterpiece by Ferrando de Sepúlveda, a goldsmith of Spanishwho worked at the court of the Navarrese king.

Chalice of Charles III the Noble. Museum of Navarre

Chalice of Charles III the Noble. Museum of Navarre