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Avià altar front

  • Avià altar front. Barcelona © National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC)

    Avià altar front. Barcelona © National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC)





Around 1200

Cultural background


Original title

Frontal de altar de Avià
National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC)
Barcelona, Catalonia

One of the most representative works of the so-called Art 1200 in Catalonia, it is a key piece to understanding the influence of 12th century Byzantine art on Western art.

Art 1200 was characterised by the influence of renewed Byzantine 12th century art on Western Christian art by means of the English miniature and the art of the crusades. The altar front centre is taken up by Mary as the Sedes Sapientiae or throne of wisdom, with the Child Jesus on her lap, flanked by scenes from his infancy. The Byzantine style influence can be seen from the sculptural modelling of the bodies, by the three-quarter profiles and in the traces of golden plant decoration in the background. Mary’s position in the Nativity scene, where she is displayed as sitting on a pile of straw, is also of Byzantine origin.

Details of the work


107 cm x 177 cm x 7.5 cm

Tempera, parchment beads, stucco reliefs and remnants of metallic leaf on board


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