Artes Coll & Cortes Scholarship Report: Matilde Grimaldi

Anthonie van der Wijngaerde, Vista de Tortosa, 1563. Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna. Cod. Min. 41, fol. 7.

Anthonie van der Wijngaerde, Vista de Tortosa, 1563. Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna. Cod. Min. 41, fol. 7.

I was the recipient of the generosity of the ARTES Coll & Cortés Travel Scholarship both in 2014 and in 2015, which contributed significantly to the advancement of my PhD research. Both grants were used to support periods of field research in Catalonia, specifically four months in Spring-Summer 2014 and one month in the Summer of 2015.

My PhD research focuses on the reconstruction of the lost Romanesque cathedral of Tortosa, a small town in Southern Catalonia. The Romanesque structure was built in the second half of the twelfth century and later demolished between 1428 and 1703 for the construction of the extant Gothic building. Besides the reconstruction of the lost building, my aim is to shed some light on the connections between Tortosa and the other ecclesiastical buildings of the area, including other Southern Catalan cathedrals and small-scale churches. This is especially important since Tortosa was the first cathedral erected in the region after the Christian conquest of 1148.

Due to the nature of my research, field work is of extreme importance for the study of

archaeological remains in Tortosa, the consultation of local archives, and the analysis of the architectural evidence of the surrounding region for the elaboration of comparisons with contemporary ecclesiastical buildings.

The main achievement of my 2014 stay concerned the reconstruction of the design of the lost cathedral. Earlier analyses had allowed me to develop a number of hypotheses on the original plan of the building, but the lack of solid physical evidence was creating a number of difficulties. Luckily my presence in Catalonia allowed me to learn of a Georadar survey of the Gothic church conducted by a team from the Architecture Faculty of the University Rovira i Virgili in Reus. I was able to meet the research team and work with them on the topic, finally receiving a concrete validation and refinement of my theories.

Seu Vella of Lleida, eastern sector

Seu Vella of Lleida, eastern sector

Another valuable goal reached thanks to the scholarship was the analysis of the architectural context of Southern Catalonia. During both my 2014 and 2015 stays I was able to embark on a number of visits to sites spread across the region, surveying the major cathedrals of Tarragona and Lleida as well as the numerous smaller churches, such as San Salvador de Horta de Sant Joan, Sant Joan dels Ventalles of Ulldecona, and Santa Maria de Agramunt. These visits allowed me to reinforce one of the principal propositions of my research, namely the role of the Romanesque cathedral of Tortosa in shaping the architectural milieu of the region. I hope this argument will not only shed light on the development of Romanesque in Catalonia but also be a case study of the typical drivers behind the creation of a new artistic model.

On top of the two achievements described above, the ARTES Coll & Cortés Travel Scholarship allowed me to refine endless other aspects of my research and meet and interact with local scholars. I am therefore extremely grateful to the ARTES Coll & Cortés Travel Scholarship for making all this possible.

 

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