BEATO DE LA SEO DE URGEL
- Reference: Archivo de la Catedral de Seo de Urgel, referencia 26.
- Otuer names: Codex Urgellensis.
- Dimensions: 398 x 270mm.
- 239 folios of parchment, written in round visigoth letter on two columns.
- It consists of 79 miniatures, plus those that exist in the medallions of the chronologies of the first pages.
The Blessed which is preserved in the cathedral of Seo de Urgel at least since the beginning of the twelfth century, as it is documented in an inventory of his library made in 1147, unlike the usual in this type of codices, does not include information about its author or the date or place of creation.
Belonging to the same pictorial tradition as the Blessed of San Miguel de Escalada and Valcavado and dated in the last sung line of the tenth century, is considered as one of the last examples of the Magius school, but in a much more schematic style, showing in his images a higher level of abstraction. Because of their great analogies with the Blessed of Valcavado most experts attribute it to some Leonese scriptorium, possibly that of that monastery, although the type of structure of the manuscript itself does not rule out the possibility that its origin is in some monastery of La Rioja or Navarra.
The theory of his Leonese origin is reinforced by the close relationship of King Alfonso VI and his descendants with the Counts of Urgel, as well as that of the Castilian count Pedro Ansúrez, who ruled Urgel on the death of his son-in-law Armengol V (1082-1102), during the minority of his grandson Armengol VI. This relationship may explain the donation of the manuscript to the cathedral that there was reconstructing in Romanesque style at that time.
This manuscript, which had been kept in the Cathedral of the Seo de Urgell for almost a thousand years, was stolen on September 29, 1996 from its Diocesan Museum and recovered almost completely -only one folio is missing- on January 21, 1997.
In it we observe an important mutation with respect to the rest of the blesseds of the school of Magio. While the colour has lost its brilliance, the line acquires fundamental importance. Its author is a born graphic designer in which the figures have a more elongated canon than usual in the Mozarabic miniature, generating images with a sensation of verticality that recalls the figures of El Greco. While in the previous Blesseds of the series the importance of the line and a special attention to facial expression is already observed, in this one the schematization is carried to the limit, focusing the iconographic interest in the parallel lines that reinforce the sensation of slenderness of the figures, producing a strange visual effect, not without a very special beauty, in compositions of an absolutely flat character.
In addition, within the manuscript itself there is also a mutation, since in the first 79 illustrations, which correspond to the genealogies and the Commentaries of the Apocalypse, the style of Magius is maintained, presenting the figures on colored backgrounds in bands of irregular thickness in bright tones, the second part, dedicated to the book of Daniel, is very different, with the figures painted directly on the parchment in which the slenderness and verticality of the figures are even more evident.
His images are of great interest to learn about the customs of the society of his time, since in them both the characters and the furnishings, furniture and buildings are represented as was usual in the high Spanish Middle Ages. The garments, both secular and ecclesiastical, and those of the warriors reflect the customs of the tenth century. Also in the images of war, such as the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, he presents vestments and weapons-harnesses of the horses, bows, arrows, spears, Shields and swords- inherited from Visigoth Spain. The same happens with the furniture, which offers us information about the existence and the form of the royal solium and of fraileros armchairs, benches, beds or candelabra among others. On the other hand, the buildings represented correspond to designs similar to the Mozarabic monuments that have come to us, highlighting the use of the horseshoe arch in all cases. It can also be observed that the kings appear with a long closed tunic and a curious diadem, as well as some musical instruments of that time.
Historia de España de Menéndez Pidal: Tomos VI y VII*
SUMMA ARTIS: Tomo VIII
L’Art Préroman Hispanique: ZODIAQUE
Arte y Arquitectura española 500/1250: Joaquín Yarza
El Beato de La Seo de Urgell y sus minatura: Antonio Cagides Soro