Santa María de Mur



Mural painting, XI century.
Castell de Mur, Lleida. Commissioned by the General guidance of Cultural Heritage of the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Location of the paintings:

Apse at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Apse in the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC).

In 1907, a group of Italian experts pluck the paintings that decorated the central apse of the church, under the command of Ignacio Pollak, antiquarian and art dealer who buys the set to the rector of Mur. After many vicissitudes, and avoiding the buyback started by the Museums Board of the Generalitat de Catalunya, the paintings arrive at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

From the same set, the Catalan Board can buy the southern apse paints, currently located in the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC). This set was torn and pierced by Ramon Gudiol between 1950 and 1953, entering the museum in 1961.

The central apse remains original painting with great historical interest, which discouraged the installation of a reproduction that definitely could conceal them. In 2006 and after studying various proposals, the General guidance of Heritage and Restoration Center of Personal Property of the Generalitat de Catalunya, with Arsus Papel professionals, set the most appropriate approach to solve all issues that the intervention require.

The better option is to host the replica in a mobile structure, with a metallic structure mounted on wheels, enabling the displacement.

This approach solves several issues. On one hand, the paintings return to preside and give meaning to the temple for which were designed, and secondly, paint residues that remain after the pullout, can be viewed by moving the whole. The copy became into a barrier function to maintain the original wall intact.

open apse

structure detail

open window


frank welding

The new structure of the central apse is made in iron and the cage is 8 meters tall where three windows are housed (one of them hinged to allow the opening movement). The whole rests on several wheels, with a pivoting on a pin end (the only single fastener) allow the displacement.

The inner surface of the structure is covered with polyester resin reinforced with fiberglass. On this structure also rest a plastic mortar imitating the appearance of irregularities and roughness of the original with material losses and cracks.

structure detail

The images were taken by photographers from the Boston Museum, the negotiation was conducted by the General guidance of Patrimoni. The process of the negotiation was very complex because no one took into account the required characteristics to submit for a proper function. In particular, and considering the spherical shape of the apse and warping and all perspectives presented if the image are not taken perpendicular to the plane.

To correct the deformations a georeferencing program was used. These programs related by the benchmarks of the image with the location into the plane or space where are directed. Thus, all the points that make up the picture are forced to be distributed in the right way, avoiding distortions due to the conditions of photography capture.

The reference images were obtained by performing "rubbings" from the photographs taken on the original walls.

original photograph                  reference rubbings                georeferencing software final image

transferring the image with Papelgel

final aspect  of the art work part


Lighting is an important element to an artwork presentation. The proposal should emphasize the monumental of the paintings and solve in a simple and adequate way the lighting from the original and the copy.

Arsus Paper design lighting project, which involves the placement of two buried bulbs in the soil evenly illuminate the entire surface of the apse. This lighting is very consistent because it’s possible to assume that formerly with candles or torches the illuminate effect from the bottom would be usual.

When the copy is moved, the bulb lights in the same way the conserved parts in the original walls.

The apse, whose paintings are exposed at the National Museum of Catalan Art, did not retain any appreciable element after the avulsion. To respect the appearance, was operated exclusively playing the remains known today. All fragments, scattered absidial basin and arches, were located in the original wall to achieve a seamless integration into the set. All the external elements are separated a few millimeters from the wall, formed on wire mesh, polyester resin and glass fiber, bound by a limited number of small screws.

Mural painting Mur

Mural painting Mur
Santa Maria de Mur        

Edited by Catalan Agency of Cultural Heritage.




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