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Romanesque and Baroque Art in Andorra  


An itinerary to discover

If any form of art can be said to predominate in Andorra, without a shadow of a doubt it is the Romanesque style, in its principal expressions of religious and civil architecture; painting, and sculpture. We base this affirmation on the artistic legacy that has been preserved in the Principality, although certain peculiarities specific to the Pyrenean regions must also be taken into account. While in the rest of Europe, the Romanesque
style pertains to a period that falls, chronologically, between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, in the case of Andorra a kind of artistic inertia prolonged the production of Romanesque art when other European countries had already progressed to the Gothic style.

Romanesque art in Andorra is mainly characterised by the absence of large groups of buildings. Instead, we have a great number of small buildings such as churches. In most cases they are very simple buildings, and the lack of any decorative element is compensated for by the perfect combination of sobriety and beauty that they achieve. Their principal appeal lies in the Lombard-style bell towers, which may be cylindrical or square; the divided windows and the blind arches, features that are to be found, for instance, in the church at Santa Coloma, among others.

As far as pictorial and decorative art is concerned, we can count eleven churches that contain the remains of frescoes. These were painted by artists such as the "Master of Santa Coloma" whose work is visible in four of our churches - Santa Coloma, Sant Miquel d'Engolasters, Sant Roma de les Bons and Sant Cristofol d'Anyos - or the "Master of la Cortinada" whose work we can admire in the Church of Sant Martí, in the village of La Cortinada. The influence of the great religious artists of this period, such as those of Taull, Pedret or Urgell, is discernible in the paintings, and in the majority of cases the compositions are similar, with subjects such as St John's Vision of the Apocalypse or Christ in His Majesty, being common. 

Finally, with regard to sculpture, we must mention the many excellent renditions in stucco of the Mother of God, and the statue of Christ in His Majesty that can be seen in the Church of Saint Joan de Caselles - all of which are the perfect complement to the route of Romanesque art that you can discover during your stay in Andorra.

Art and Devotion

It is evident from the large number of Romanesque churches to be found all over Andorra that any reference to Baroque art will, inevitably, involve the altarpieces to be found in them.  Chronologically, these works belong to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and their subject matter is similar to that we can see in other churches of the Pyrenean region.  One of the more striking things about them is the diversity of the images they contain. Images that were scorned by the Protestant religion (such as those of the Virgin Mary) and the Counter-Reformation wishes to show off again. 

Another remarkable aspect of these works is the presence of very vivid and intense colours, particularly gold.  As far as subject is concerned, scenes are quite often repeated, with Purgatory, the Passion, and Martyrdom most frequently represented. Some of these representations can be seen in the Church of Sant Marti in La Cortinada, or in the group of five altarpieces in the Parish Church at La Massana. 

The images are mostly ingenuous and naïve, and we note the particular attraction exercised by certain Saints.  These include Saint Isidore the Labourer, patron saint of farmers; Saint Francis Xavier of the Jesuits; Saint Sebastian; Saint Peter; Saint Paul, and Saint Anthony of Padua.

We must also refer to the group of Baroque images which, although they do not form part of an altarpiece, are just as important or more.  These include the Virgin of the "Roser" in the Church of Sant Cerni in Canillo, or Our Lady of Piety at the Church of Santa Eulalia in Encamp.  Finally, although Baroque art has not left us an extensive pictorial legacy, we still have some remarkable works. One of these is the painting of the Souls, a canvas in two parts, showing Glory and Purgatory, It can be seen in the Church of Sant Esteve , Andorra la Vella.

Source:  "Benvinguts Andorra" nº 64, april 2003


Upon your arrival in our holiday apartments or chalet in Arinsal, you will find further information on the cultural visits you can do during your stay.


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