November 10, 2010


Heritage, Art and Architecture

The project cataloguing of the enclosures in the province of Valladolid

Mr. José Ignacio Hernández Redondo.
Curator of the National Museum high school San Gregorio de Valladolid.

The artistic heritage, both architectural and movable goods, treasured by the female cloisters of Valladolid continues to be, in spite of the crisis experienced by this subject of foundations, of a magnitude that makes it impossible to summarize it without forgetting essential aspects in the space of time suitable for a lecture. As far as the convents of the city are concerned, their artistic wealth has been well known for years thanks to the work carried out by professors Juan José Martín González and Francisco Javier de la place Santiago, authors of a volume of the Monumental Catalog of the Province, dedicated to convents and seminaries.

The same did not happen with the convents of the province, of which in most cases only a brief reference letter of their churches open to worship had been published. In a commendable initiative, the Diocese of Valladolid, firmly determined to facilitate the study and the knowledge of these works, signed in 1999 a agreement with the Provincial Council to carry out an inventory of the artistic assets preserved in these convents. For this purpose, a team of specialists was formed, coordinated by the diocesan delegate of patrimony, Mr. Luis María Isusi Baqué, and formed by Mr. Manuel Arias Martínez, Deputy Director of the then National Museum of Sculpture, Mr. José Ignacio Hernández Redondo, curator of the same museum, and Mr. Antonio Sánchez del Barrio, director of the Museum of the Fairs of Medina del Campo. Concluded in 2004, the project was developed in three editions in which the thirteen female convents that remained open at that time were divided, of which three have already been closed.

After a first part in which some of the most outstanding features of the cloistered heritage of Castilla y León in general and Valladolid in particular were recalled, as well as its current status , the lecture by José Ignacio Hernández focused on detailing the aforementioned project cataloguing of the cloisters of the province, culminating in the successive editions with a temporary exhibition showing some of the most significant pieces, many of them unpublished.

The books published in each of the phases followed the same outline, with a first section in which articles on the history of the foundations and their buildings and, secondly, the artistic heritage of the cloisters, with references to convents that have already disappeared in the same localities or to works that are currently in other places but that belonged to the convents, are collected in separate articles. This is followed by the catalog of the exhibition, with a detailed study of each of the pieces, selected for their quality, iconographic interest or for being significant works of cloistered life. Finally, the complete inventory of each convent was published, with photographs of all the pieces, detailing each of the elements that make up the large groups. In this way, a total of 1554 pieces were recorded.

All the solutions aimed at guaranteeing the conservation of the artistic heritage of the cloisters, including the awareness of its real value on the part of the religious communities themselves, go through the knowledge of the works they contain. For this reason, it would be of great interest to carry out projects such as the one developed in the province of Valladolid in other places.