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History of the Cathedral Frescoes

click here to enlarge this imageThe construction of the Valencia Cathedral in a Gothic style began in 1262. On 21 May 1462, a “burning” pigeon, representing the Holy Spirit, was coming down from the dome, and sparks shot out from it lighting fire the cloth around the wooden and silver altarpiece, burning the whole decoration of the apse and the paintings in fresco of the vault. Several attempts of restoration failed.

The Valencian Bishop Rodrigo Borgia (later Pope Alexander VI) came to Valencia with the painters Francisco Pagano, from Naples, and Pablo de San Leocadio, from Reggio in Lombardia, in order to have the Cathedral as radiant as the new art movement coming up in Italy, the Renaissance. Upon arrival, they signed the contract with the Cardinal and the Chapter on 26 July 1472.

In the contract, kept in the Cathedral archive, the painters' commission, among other things, was to paint in fresco in each of the cells between the ribs of the vaulted roof of the presbytery.

“two angels, dressed accordingly to the honourable Chapter, with golden wings in exquisite colours; to decorate the ribs with branches, leaves and fruits, painted with gold of ducats and to paint the windows in azure and gold of ducats, too”

The deadline to finish the work was within six years.

click here to enlarge this imageThis master work of the first Renaissance disappeared in the 17th century. In 1674 the Archbishop Luis Alfonso de los Cameros, decided to restore the whole chapel so that the silver altarpiece decorating the altar could shine better. His idea was well accepted by the Chapter. Juan Pérez Castiel was in charge of the rebuilding, a famous architect with a rich imagination. The new work, in a baroque style, lasted for seven years, eleven months and ten days, and was finished on 28 May 1682.

The placing of the marbles and baroque adornment made the paintings of the apse disappeared, but the angels of the domed vault were covered by a new one placed 80 centimetres under the 13th century dome.

On 9 October 2003, the President of the Region of Valencia, Mr. Francisco Camps, requested to restore the Great Chapel, which could not be touched during the preparation of “La Luz de las Imágenes” (“The Light of the Images”).

click here to enlarge this imageUpon the presentation of a plan of action by the Chapter, in May 2004, started the restoration of the baroque adornment of the apse, commending the work to the Foundation “The Light of the Images”. Professor Mrs. Carmen Perez was put in charge of the work.

click here to enlarge this imageOn 22 June, it was a great surprise for them to see through a hole made by a mobile piece holder, the first ten big angels playing musical instruments around the missing keystone with the wooden image of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It was amazing to see not only the beauty of this work of art but also the good condition of the preservation in which it was found.

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