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Puerta de la Gloria

  • Object:

    Plaster cast

  • Place of origin:

    Santiago de Compostela (made)
    Santiago de Compostela (cast)

  • Date:

    dated 1188 (made)
    1866 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    The Master Matteo (sculptor)
    Brucciani, Domenico, born 1815 - died 1880 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plaster cast

  • Museum number:

    REPRO.1866-50

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Pórtico de la Gloria at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, dating from the late twelfth century, has long been recognized as one of the great monuments of romanesque art. In 1866 the Museum commissioned a plaster cast to be made of it. This was triumphantly realized in Santiago by the plaster cast maker Domenico Brucciani (1815-1880). Brucciani, a native of Lucca, had come over to London from Italy in the 1840s to join his uncle, a plaster cast manufacturer. He later set up a plaster casting business in Covent Garden, and worked for the South Kensington Museum from 1853 or 1854 onwards. He was one of a number of Italians who produced plaster reproductions of works of art in London in the mid-nineteenth century. The width of the copy of the Pórtico, just over 41 metres, probably determined the width of the Cast Courts (then known as the Architectural Courts), which were built in 1873 to house it. Brucciani and his team of workmen made an arduous sea voyage to Spain in 1866 in order to cast the Pórtico, and remarkably completed the work in two months.

The scene represented on the tympanum is derived from on the biblical Book of Revelation. In the centre, Christ in Majesty displays his wounds, surrounded by the four Evangelists. At each side of the Evangelists are four angels holding the instruments of the Passion. Above are two groups of blessed souls. In the archivolt are seated the Elders of the Apocalypse, playing musical instruments. Below, in the centre, the figure of Saint James the Greater (Santiago), patron saint of the cathedral, and of Spain, is shown seated, holding his pilgrim's staff. Beneath the Apostle is the Tree of Jesse, the family tree of Christ as descended through King David, the first time that this subject had been represented in Spanish art. At the base of the central column, looking towards the high altar of the cathedral, is the kneeling figure of the artist himself, Master Mateo, holding a tablet inscribed ‘Architectus’.

Physical description

Plaster cast of the portal, in stone, known as the Puerta de la Gloria, with representations of Christ in Majesty surrounded by the Evangelists, Angels bearing the Symbols of the Passion, the Apocalyptic Elders, St. James the Greater, the Apostles and the Prophets, from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. By the Master Mateo (who is shown crouching on the reverse of the central column).

Place of Origin

Santiago de Compostela (made)
Santiago de Compostela (cast)

Date

dated 1188 (made)
1866 (cast)

Artist/maker

The Master Matteo (sculptor)
Brucciani, Domenico, born 1815 - died 1880 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Plaster cast

Dimensions

Height: 10.57 m, Width: 17.85 m

Object history note

Commissioned by the Museum from Domenico Brucciani in 1866 at a cost of £2300

Descriptive line

Plaster cast of the portal, in stone, known as the Puerta de la Gloria, from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, by the Master Mateo, 1188, cast by Domenico Brucciani 1866

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Trusted, Majorie. ed. The Making of Sculpture: the Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: V&A Publications, 2007. p. 160. pl. 308.
Cormier, Brendan and Thom, Danielle, eds. A World of Fragile Parts, London, 2016, p.17.

Subjects depicted

Lions; Instruments of the Passion; Bulls; Eagles; Men; Angels; Prophets; Saints

Categories

Ph_survey; Sculpture; Religion; Architecture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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