Between 1168 and 1211, Master Mateo worked on a project that was fundamental to the history of Santiago Cathedral.
Master Mateo's work on the cathedral included completion of the naves and the execution of his own project, which began with the Portico of Glory and its exterior facade, and concluded with the cathedral's consecration in 1211.
Mateo's facade, which was organized over 3 streets and 4 registers, was probably made between 1188 and 1211. It featured a large rose window that occupied the top of the central section.
This set is also from the missing facade by Mateo, and was part of an eave that ran along the edge of the first section of the central part.
It comprises 5 elements made up of rounded arches sheltering busts of angels with outstretched wings, carrying books and phylacteries (boxes containing scriptural passages).
The prophets were also portrayed in the Portico of Glory. In this case, there is a depiction of Isaac, who holds a card with an inscription that is no longer legible.
The work to the cathedral facade between 1519 and 1521 involved its 3 doors, and it was necessary to take down the column statues and reliefs added by Master Mateo and his team in order to finish the decoration and iconography on the portico.
These two sculptures depicting the elderly characters Elijah and Enoch belonged to the primitive facade. Wearing halos, they are barefoot with their left legs bent. They are dressed in tunics and cloaks which, although powerful in effect, are not enough to conceal the rounded shapes of the bodies beneath them.
By the time the cathedral was consecrated in 1211, Mateo's choir had been completed. It remained standing until 1604, when it was torn down to make way for new wooden stalls. These were built to a design requested by Archbishop Juan de Sanclemente to suit the latest liturgical customs of the period.
An exhibition created by Fundación Catedral de Santiago
Photography: ©Museo Catedral de Santiago
Texts: Marina Pérez Toro