What can we say about Cerdan art except that it is a summary of Catalan art with the humility and skill of a people as discreet as it is demanding?
Already in megalithic times or when some three thousand years ago the schists of Err, Osseja or Vallsabollera were engraved, an aesthetic will was already evident. However, it was not until the year 1000 that an exceptional artistic production was to be found.
It was then that Cerdanya was enriched by a dense network of Romanesque buildings. In the 11th century, with the Lombard churches of Ur and Caldégas, in the 12th century with the dominated and sculpted stone of Hix, Llo, Olopte or Guils, and even in the 13th century in Enveitg or All, we still find the same quality, that of a skilful worker who gives the best of himself.
If we enter inside the churches, it is a blossoming of Roman Virgins (Dorres, Ix, Ger, Err, Font-romeu), Christs (la Llaguna, Ix, Estavar), altar fronts (Ix, Angostrina, Mosoll), frescoes (Estavar, Angostrina, Càldegues). In Cerdanya you can discover many aspects of our roman art and the best of it, since the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya has chosen many of our treasures to put them in the place of honour of so many halls.
Gothic monumental works are usually only found in cities of late creation, born of royal will, such as the bridge of Sant Martí over the Querol River or the churches of Puigcerdà, Llívia o Bellver. Many villages have preserved wooden sculptures such as Christ and Saint Margaret of Palau. La Cerdanya is proud to preserve altarpieces that are still the pride of Catalan Gothic, such as the altarpiece of Saint Martha of Iravals by Ramon Destorrents, the altarpiece of the Suckling Virgin of Palau by her pupil Jaume Serra and, in the 15th century, the altarpiece of Bolvir saved in 1936. Are the castles of the Querol Valley Gothic? It is difficult to say after so many alterations.
The 16th century was a bad Catalan century in political, demographic and economic terms. Nevertheless, Cerdanya has managed to preserve interesting works such as the Dominican cloister of Puigcerdà or the altarpieces by Antoine Peytavi d'Iravals, d'Ur or Sainte-Léocadie. The 17th century was worth years and years of war in Cerdanya. It is not surprising that it did not leave any major works except for a military citadel like Mont-Louis. A flourishing agriculture and prosperous smuggling allowed the Cerdanya to experience favourable years in the 18th century. Thus can be explained a profusion of Baroque art, six altarpieces for example in the only small church in Caldégas. Many altarpieces were burnt in Spanish Cerdanya in 1936 but we have kept prestigious works in the hermitage of Font-Romeu (by Josep Sunyer), in Enveitg but also in practically every church. The economic prosperity of this century explains the abundance and architectural perfection of powerful farmhouses with carved lintels, monumental portals and, for example at Sainte-Léocadie, curious Spanish bruixes.
La bourgeoisie barcelonaise du XIXème siècle et du début du XXème aimait passer l’été en Cerdagne. C’est pour cela que l’art nouveau catalan, de réputation internationale, est très présent chez nous, en particulier à Puigcerdà aux rues Querol, Espanya ou Abat Oliba, au bord du lac, au théâtre. A Bolvir, la Torre del Remei en est un parfait exemple. Certes notre montagne ne possède pas de monuments à la mesure de la tribune de Serrabona, du portail de Ripoll ou de la cathédrale de la Seu. Notre orgueil est celui de posséder un art montagnard fidèle à des exigences de qualité, mais surtout d’un art à l’échelle humaine.
Texte de Jean-Louis BLANCHON
En période Estivale M. Blanchon historien passionné propose des visites guidées d’églises de Cerdagne. Ces visites sont gratuites.