Cenotaph of San Vicente in the Basilica of Santos Martires
Dating of the building: End of the 12th century.
Applicant: Historical Heritage of Castile and Leon Foundation.
Reason for the award :
For the successful restoration of the Cenotaph of San Vicente and its Baldachin, in the Basilica of Santos Martires in Avila, as an exceptional example of Romanesque burial architecture in Europe.
The restoration has restored the exceptional cenotaph to the vividness of its original late 12th-century polychrome and has prepared it for the wear and tear of centuries to come.
This unique piece has been considered for centuries the tomb of Saint Vincent, a martyr from the 4th century, although it is a cenotaph, the burial monument does not house his remains. It is a sculpture carved in stone from the end of the 12th or the beginning of the 13th century, considered a masterpiece of the Late-Romanesque period. Its architectural structure, with two floors and three naves, also shows some elements typical of the Gothic. On it are carved scenes from the lives of the saints and their martyrdom, among others from the New Testament, such as the Epiphany. It is inserted in a canopy, built in the 15th century, which has a plinth and four polychrome granite stone columns covered with polychrome and a gilded wooden roof.
The restoration returned the cenotaph to its original state after the recovery of the intensely coloured polychrome, which had been previously documented through historical research and the analysis of 50 samples. It took more than 50 specimens to realize that the polychrome was superposed in three pictorial coatings; the Romanesque original in bright colours, a 15th-century repaint that respects the original colours, and a later painting from the late 18th or early 19th century, which gave the tomb a uniform whitish appearance. The restoration also provided important information on the alterations, rehabilitation, and modifications suffered by the cenotaph from its construction to the present day. Subsequently, the structural stability of the polychrome wooden canopy and the original polychrome of the rails surrounding it were restored. All the works were collected in a monograph.