Sunday, April 15, 2012
If you are interested in the depiction of strange mountainscapes, it is worth looking out for art inspired by the Virgin of Montserrat, patroness of Catalonia. The Mare de Déu de Montserrat is a statue venerated at the Benedictine mountain monastery and she is usually shown seated on a throne among the crags or floating above the mountain tops. The Museu Frederic Marès in Barcelona has a Montserrat Hall entirely devoted to objects linked to la Moreneta ('The little dark-skinned one'), all collected by Marès (1893-1991), the artist and restorer who worked tirelessly to preserve Catalonia's artistic heritage. It is perhaps not surprising that such a striking landscape became a symbol, recognisable even in the simple design of the dish in my photograph below. A thousand years after the founding of the monastery the Catalan poet/priest Jacinto Verdaguer composed the 'Legends of Montserrat' (1880), including lyrics that became a famous hymn, 'Virolai', in which the formation of these serrated peaks is attributed to the work of angels, sculpting the mountain with golden saws: 'Amb serra d'or los angelets serraren'.