Animals in art – Bulls – Altarpiece of Sant Miquel de Prats


Andorra Spain – A small detail of the Altarpiece of Sant Miquel del Prats, where you can see oxen, is the motive that illustrates this year the seal of the series “Animals in Art”.

The motif is part of one of the tables of the attic of the altarpiece, which represents the scene of the “Apparition or miracle of Mount Gargano”, a work located chronologically in late Gothic, which can easily be appreciated and recognized by the profusion of gold, but that has the exceptionality of having some details that anticipate the Renaissance style, as the figuration of the characters.

The altarpiece is considered one of the most important exponents of the painting of century XVI of Andorra.

The work had until recently been attributed to an author who was called “Canillo Master”, authorship that has now been discovered as a double: on the one hand the painter Miquel Ramells and on the other the gilder Guy de Borgonyó.

Thanks to some documents found in the “Arxiu Nacional d’Andorra”, the authorship of the work was known and it was possible to accurately date the time when the work was done around the year 1530. The work was done with painting to the tempera, oil and gold on pine wood.

The altarpiece was originally located in the Romanesque church of Sant Miquel de Prats, in the Andorran parish of Canillo, and was built in the 12th century.

It is a representative example of Andorran rural romanesque. Of thick walls made up of slate slabs and austere in appearance, it has the singularity of being built on uneven ground, so that the apse and part of the side walls are underground, except for the main façade that gives access to the temple. Its small double-spanned belfry along with the Principality’s mountain landscape give the small church a special appeal.

In the early twentieth century, the altarpiece was sold to an antiquarian who resold it in turn for pieces, some of which have recovered in recent years and others are still missing.

At the moment, “The fall of the rebellious angels”, the predella of the altarpiece and the table from which the motif of this seal, “The Apparition of Mount Gargano”, was acquired in 2011 by Crèdit Andorrà which currently belongs to his art background.

The stamp includes a photograph of the Andorran photographer Jordi Tena, who has guided part of his work to photograph the real animals, fantastic or mythological, which are present in the artistic imagination of the Principality.