The Clositers, 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, NYC
Apse from San Martín at Fuentidueña:
Made in Segovia, Castilla-León, Spain, 1175-1200.
The church of San Martín stood in the village of Fuentidueña in north-central Spain, a region largely uninhabited, though claimed intermittently by Christian and Muslim forces, from the eighth through the eleventh century. Little is known about the building’s history. By the nineteenth century, the apse–a term that most often describes a semicircular space terminating at the east end of a church, where the altar is situates–was the only part of the church surviving in fair condition. In 1957 the Spanish government agreed to lend it permanently to The Cloisters. The apse is covered by a barrel vault and a half-dome, with three small windows piercing the exterior wall. Flanking the window zone are two columns fronted with figures: on the left, Saint Martin, bishop of Tours (ca. 316-397), and on the right, the Annunciate Angel and Mary. Below a triumphal arch are two attached columns whose capitals depict the Adoration of the Magi (left) and Daniel in the Lions’ Den (right). To accommodate the reconstructed apse, which comprises 3,300 stone blocks, the former Special Exhibition Room was partially demolished. The new gallery, which opened to the public in 1961, was designed to simulate a single-aisle nave with no projecting transepts, a plan characteristic of twelfth-century Segovian architecture.
The Virgin and Child in Majesty and the Adoration of the Magi (by Master of Pedret):
Made in Lleida, Catalunya, Spain, ca. 1100.
Mounted in the apse from Fuentidueña, this fresco originally comes from a different church, nestled in the Pyrenees near the border between Spain and France. Despite its remote location, the church of the Virgin at Cap d’Aran occupies a strategic position in the mountains, at the head of the Garonne River. In the twelfth century, it was controlled by the Knights Templar, then a wealthy military order dedicated to the protection of the Holy Land and to the Christian reconquest of Spain. The church is one of several in Catalunya where the same, accomplished, artist worked.
The church of the Virgin was sacked in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War; subsequently, its frescoes were acquired by museums and private collectors, while other objects from the church disappeared entirely.
Made in Palencia, Castile-León, Spain. Wearing the golden crown of the King of Heaven, Christ is shown in triumph over death. This image of the living Christ on the cross is often found in Romanesque Spain. With much of its original color intact, the figure is enhanced by extensive gilding of the hems and the use of simulated jewels as well as large polished stones. As the convent from which this poignant image comes was not founded until the fourteenth century, the crucifix was probably made for the nearby Romanesque church that still stands at Astudillo.
Described by Germain Bazin, former director of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, as "the crowning achievement of American museology," is the branch of the Metropolitan Museum devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. Located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park, the building incorporates elements from five medieval French cloisters—quadrangles enclosed by a roofed or vaulted passageway, or arcade—and from other monastic sites in southern France. Three of the cloisters reconstructed at the branch museum feature gardens planted according to horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, garden documents and herbals, and medieval works of art, such as tapestries, stained-glass windows, and column capitals. Approximately five thousand works of art from medieval Europe, dating from about A.D. 800 with particular emphasis on the twelfth through fifteenth century, are exhibited in this unique and sympathetic context.
The collection focuses on the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Renowned for its architectural sculpture, The Cloisters also rewards visitors with exquisite illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork, enamels, ivories, and tapestries.
The Cloisters, which celebrated its sixtieth anniversary in 1998, is named for the portions of five medieval French cloisters—Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigorre, and Froville—that were incorporated into the modern museum building. The result is not a copy of any particular medieval structure but an ensemble of spaces, rooms, and gardens that provide a harmonious and evocative setting in which visitors can experience the rich tradition of medieval artistic production. Just as cloisters provided sheltered access from one building to another within a monastery, here they act as passageways from gallery to gallery. They provide as inviting a place for rest, contemplation, and conversation as they did for their original monastic population.
Much of the sculpture at The Cloisters was acquired by George Grey Barnard (1863–1938), a prominent American sculptor and avid collector of medieval art. While working in rural France before World War I, Barnard supplemented his income by locating and selling medieval sculpture and architectural fragments that had made their way into the hands of local landowners over several centuries of political and religious upheaval. He kept many pieces for himself and, upon returning to the United States, opened to the public a churchlike brick structure on Fort Washington Avenue filled with his collection—the first installation of medieval art of its kind in America.
Through the generosity of the philanthropist and collector John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874–1960), the museum and all of its contents were acquired by the Museum in 1925. By 1927, it was clear that a new, larger building would be needed to display the collection in a more scholarly fashion. In addition to financing the conversion of 66.5 acres of land just north of Barnard’s museum into a public park—inside which the new museum building would be located—and donating seven hundred acres of additional land to the state of New Jersey across the Hudson River to ensure that the view from The Cloisters remain unsullied, Rockefeller contributed medieval works of art from his own collection (including the celebrated set of seven South Netherlandish tapestries depicting "The Hunt of the Unicorn") and established an endowment for operations and future acquisitions.
The new museum building was designed by Charles Collens (1873–1956), the architect of New York City’s Riverside Church, in a simplified, paraphrased medieval style, incorporating and reconstructing the cloister elements salvaged by Barnard. Joseph Breck (1885–1933), a curator of decorative arts and assistant director of the Metropolitan, and James J. Rorimer (1905–1966), who would later be named director, were primarily responsible for the interior. Balancing Collens’s interpretation with strict attention to historical accuracy, Breck and Rorimer created in the galleries a clear and logical flow from the Romanesque (ca. 1000–ca. 1150) through the Gothic period (ca. 1150–1520). The Cloisters was formally dedicated on May 10, 1938. The Treasury, containing sumptuous objects created for liturgical celebrations, personal devotions, and secular uses, was renovated in 1988. The galleries in which the seven tapestries depicting "The Hunt of the Unicorn" are hung were refurbished in 1999.
Tagged: , New York , NY , NYC , Manhattan , The Cloisters , Metropolitan Museum of Art , The Met , Fort Tryon Park , museum , art architecture , sculptures , paintings , fresco , medieval Europe , medieval , Europe , tapestries , stained-glass windows , Romanesque , Gothic , George Grey Barnard , John D. Rockefeller Jr. , The Virgin and Child in Majesty and the Adoration of the Magi , Apse from San Martin at Fuentiduena , apse , San Martin at Fuentiduena , Master of Pedret , Spain , church , Pyrenees , the church of the Virgin at Cap d’Aran , Knights Templar , Catalunya , Chrisitan , Christianity , Castilla-Leon , the church of San Martin , crucifix , Christ , cross , navema