Figures and Letters. A Methodological Remark on the Inscriptions in Catalan Romanesque Mural Paintings

Vincent Debiais


Inscriptions are numerous in the corpus of Catalan mural paintings, which thus provides a vast laboratory to understand the place of inscriptions in painted decoration and how iconic and alphabetic signs interact throughout the building, and possibly in the staging of the liturgical ritual. This article does not intend to draw up a complete corpus of Romanesque painted inscriptions in Catalonia; rather, it aims to consider how the relationship between text and image show the active role of writing in the production of meaning within the general dynamics of the building (liturgical, communal, symbolic dynamic, etc.). Raising the question of the “function” of inscriptions and studying some painted inscriptions, this paper hopes to promote a closer reading of the epigraphic texts of Catalan painting ; one that is more respectful of the original relationships existing between writing and image in medieval artistic creations.


medieval epigraphy; mural paintings; Romanesque art; Catalan art; liturgy; palaeography; inscription; iconography; Bible;

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