Fragmentation and the Limits of Iconography: Methodological Reflections on a Recent Discovery in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela


Tuesday, November 22, 2016, 5:00pm to 6:00pm


RCC Conference Room, 26 Trowbridge St., Cambridge MA

This past October, while removing debris from a small chamber at the base of the south tower of the west front of the Cathedral of Santiago, a magnificent column statue of a prophet, measuring 1, 85 meters, was unearthed.  Despite having lost its head and the inscription originally written on its scroll, this fragmented figure, stylistically ascribed to master Matthew’s workshop (active between 1168 and 1200), presents traces that help advance a possible identification, as well as an opportunity to discuss questions of method. Gathering formal, stylistic, textual and comparative evidence, this talk offers a first approach to this extraordinary discovery, placing the figure within the iconographic program designed by master Matthew for the exterior façade of the western narthex of the cathedral, the so-called Portal of Glory, and establishing its connections to the other sculptures originally belonging to that ensemble and now dispersed in museums and private collections, which have been recently recued from anonymity thanks to research conducted in the context of the Santiago Cathedral Project.

Speaker: Francisco Prado-Vilar, RCC Fellow

Sponsor: RCC