Girona recovers one of its Romanesque jewels: a tapestry from the 11th century

The restoration of the one-thousand-year old ‘Tapís de la Creació’ reveals its original colours. Renovation works of this Catalan Romanesque tapestry have continued longer than expected due to the delicate nature of the reparation. Now it is on show again in the Girona Cathedral, with improved isolation and lighting conditions.

CNA / Natàlia Capdevila

April 10, 2012 08:30 PM

Girona (ACN).- The Tapís de la Creació, a tapestry jewel of the Catalan Romanesque dated from the 11th century, is again on show in Girona’s Cathedral after a thorough restoration work. The restoration work has revealed the original colours of the embroidery of the tapestry’s reverse side, which has been covered for all these years by a Hessian that has prevented the wear and tear of the light. The reparation lasted 5 months and was carried out with great care and accuracy by technicians from the Restoration Centre of the Culture Ministry of the Catalan Government, in Valldoreix. The Bishop of Girona had already announced some weeks ago that the tapestry would return to the Girona Cathedral and he praised to do so by Easter, as it is one of the most relevant seasons of the Christian calendar. The tapestry was put on show again last Wednesday, April 4th.

The work needed

The Tapis de la Creació (in English the 'Tapestry of the Creation') needed restoring since it was last analysed in 2005. The analysis found that the closed room where the piece was exhibited was not airtight, so there was filtered air which was damaging the tapestry. Also, the wooden frame which supported the piece was not stable enough. So restoration work also consisted in isolating the space where the piece is exhibited with an airtight showcase, setting materials which absorb the room’s wetness and establishing a new Led illumination system instead of the incandescent ones. The entire cost of the work has been 150,000 euros. This is necessary because the tapestry is one of the most enigmatic masterpieces of Romanesque Art in Catalonia. Experts still do not know its original dimensions, the place where it was produced or its function, but they date the tapestry back to the 11th century.

Brighter shades

The main surprise of the restoration work has been the discovery of the original colours. The fact that they have been covered by sack material in the piece’s reverse side has allowed the perfect maintenance of the colours so the shades are brighter, as neither did the exposed ones. Thanks to this discovery, the technicians have also found all the restorations made on the masterpiece which had been four – the present is the fifth.

Originally, the Girona Bishopric refused to transfer the tapestry from the Girona Cathedral to the Restoration Centre to guarantee its security. Finally, they came to an agreement with the Catalan Government after agreeing on the conservation conditions. So, by keeping the results of the previous care analysis, the delicate art piece restoration was carried out by non destructive techniques.  During the process, the technicians found a lot of accumulated dust which has been cleaned with care, working centimetre by centimetre. This is the main reason why the renovation lasted longer.