The MET : Gallery 2 : Fuentidueña Chapel
Art From Us Museum Guide
JOSEPH (FROM A GROUP WITH THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI) ca. 1175 – 1200., Metropolitan Museum, Fuentidueña Chapel
APSE FROM SAINT MARTIN AT FUENTIDUENA ca. 1175 – 1200, Metropolitan Museum, Fuentidueña Chapel
SCULPTURE OF A WISE MAN (FROM A GROUP WITH THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI) ca. 1175 – 1200, Metropolitan Museum, Fuentidueña Chapel
The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Gallery 2 takes us further on the journey of re-discovering Medieval Europe, specifically through the rise of the Catholic Church.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art : Gallery 2
The church of San Martin at Fuentidueña was built in Segovia, Spain. However, in the 1940s its 3,000 block limestone apse found a new home in New York, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Cloisters.
In return for taking one of its national treasures and a piece of its cultural history, the city of New York gifted Spain six frescoes from the San Baudelio de Berlanga. These frescoes now belong to the collection of the Museo del Prado in Madrid, where they are marked as ‘an indefinite temporary deposit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.’
A little known fact about the acquisition of the apse is that initially, the Spanish government and the Catholic Church refused to let it leave Spain. That’s right! When J.D. Rockerfeller’s team of art scouts came knocking on Europe’s door, they had only one agenda – to fill the recently constructed MET Cloisters with Medieval artefacts. They hit a slight road-bump when the Spanish refused to part with this particular construction. After all, they had only just declared a national monument in 1931.
The MET thought it wise to forget about the apse, given the circumstances. However, with a twist of fate, 12 years later (in the 1940s) a Spanish art dealer mentioned it to a committee of the MET again. The time was ripe. The apse was in shambles and America wanted to bring it home to preserve it.
American vs. Spain
The Spanish government and the Church independently considered themselves as the sole authority of the apse. However, none could deny that moving the religious monument was probably the only way to preserve it. So, in 1957 after much debate between the townspeople, the Ministry of National Education and other Spanish institutions and individuals, the MET was able to bring the apse to America.
Come and enjoy this slice of the Medieval era and Spanish history, within the bustling city of New York.
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