Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The Tapestry of Creation at Girona

A post on the Medieval Religion discussion group drew attention to this news agency piece about the recently completed restoration of the Tapestry of Creation which is preserved in Girona cathedral in Spain.

Like other wonderful pieces of Iberian medieval art it is not as well known as other surviving pieces north of the Pyrennes, so this is an opportunity to draw attention to it and to the fact that such pieces doubtless once existed across Christian Europe. There is more about the Tapestry (which like its near contemporary of Bayeux is actually an embroidery) here. It is a splendid survival from the age of El Cid and from the era of the Cluniac and Gregorian Reform. Given the likelihood of loss or destruction its preservation is really remarkable - over the centuries it has been appreciated and hence has survived.

The Girona Tapestry of Creation

Detail of the Personification of the Month of April

The embroidery is worked in self couching (Bokara couching) and stem stitch and using wool and linen on a wool twill ground fabric. The remaining pieces measure 3.65m x 4.7m (12ft x 17ft 2 inches). It was produced around 1100 or in the early twelfth century and was most likely produced in its present locality, that of Girona in Catalonia.

The images on the work record the Biblical account of Creatione and include other images relating to the natural world as well as historical references and images of the months of the year (with activities associated with those months also depicted).

There are links here for

Detail of Birds in the Girona Tapestry of Creation


Further reading:

  • Pedro de Palol, El tapís de la creació de la catedral de Girona (: Edicions Proa, 1986)
  • M. Assumpta García i Renau, El Tapís de la creació, símbol del sagrat, (: La Llar del Llibre, 1993)
  • Barbara Baert, "New Observations on the Genesis of Girona (1050-1100). The Iconography of the Legend of the True Cross", Gesta, Vol. 38, No. 2. (1999), pp. 115-127.
  • Harry N. Abrams, The Art of Medieval Spain A.D. 500–1200, (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,

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