Toledos Gothic Treasure

Built at the close of the fourteenth century, the Chapel of San Blas in the Cathedral of Toledo, Spain, is a great treasure of Gothic art. Commissioned as a funerary monument by the then archbishop of Toledo, Pedro Tenorio (1328–1399), the chapel is built on a square plan and crowned by an octagonal dome—its eight facets inspired by the design of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which was erected atop what was believed to be the tomb of Christ. Within the chapel is an extraordinary cycle of frescoes painted in quintessential Florentine tradition, quite possibly the work of artists Gherardo di Jacopo Starnina and Niccolò di Antonio, both of whom were active in Toledo and Valencia between 1393 and 1401. In 1395, according to church records, Starnina and Antonio were paid the final installment on an altarpiece depicting the Passion of Christ, which had been commissioned for the Capilla del Salvador (Chapel of the Savior), also within the Toledo Cathedral. The Spaniard Rodriguez de Toledo, whose signature appears on one of the scenes in the Chapel of San Blas, participated in their execution. Until recently, however, the murals were barely discernible, obscured by centuries of soot and salts wrought by rising damp, and damaged by earlier attempts to restore them.

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