The light of the Girona's Cathedral
The Girona tables are known internationally from the works of Joan Vila-Grau, who associated them with the text of the treatise written by the medieval monk Theophilus. Recent studies by Anna Santolaria further highlight their uniqueness as there is only one other example in the world with characteristics on a par with these tables, which provide invaluable insight into medieval technical procedures.
The master glazier drew on the tables and wrote the indications necessary to produce the work. The tables were also used as a base for cutting the glass, with a red-hot iron tool, and for mounting and soldering the lead came.
The shortage of material and savings in the design required the reuse of the tables for more than one work. This is the case of the tables of the Girona glazier, which were used to make several windows of the Cathedral presbytery.
Theophilus, On Divers Arts: The Foremost Medieval Treatise on Painting, Glassmaking and Metalwork, book II, chapter XVII
“When you want to lay out glass windows, first make yourself a smooth flat wooden board, wide and long enough so that you can work two sections of each window on it. Then take a piece of chalk, scrape it with a knife all over the board, sprinkle water on it everywhere, and rub it all over with a cloth. When it has dried, take the measurements, namely, the length and breadth of one section in a window, and draw it on the board with a rule and compasses [...]. If you want to have a border on it, draw it as wide as you like and with any kind of work you wish. After doing this draw as many figures as you wish, first with [a point made of] lead or tin, then with red or black pigment, making all the lines carefully, because, when you have painted the glass, you will have to fit together the shadows and highlights in accordance with [the design on] the board [...].
After this, take a lead pot and in it put chalk ground with water. Make yourself two or three brushes out of hair from the tail of a marten, badger, squirrel, or cat or from the mane of a donkey. Now take a piece of glass of whatever kind you have chosen, but larger on all sides than the place in which it is to be set, and lay it on the ground for that place. Then you will see the drawing on the board through the intervening glass, and, following it, draw the outlines only on the glass with chalk.”
Museu d’Art de Girona (Agència Catalana del Patrimoni Cultural)
Direction: Carme Clusellas
Coordination: Aurèlia Carbonell, Marta Terés
Texts: Sílvia Cañellas, Carme Clusellas, Anna Santolaria
Graphic design: Cristina Masferrer
Linguistic advice and translations: Link traduccions
Pictures: Rafel Bosch, Cathedral of Girona, Gustavo AT Mendoza, Anna Santolaria