Since the late 19th century the wall paintings of Sant Miquel in Terrassa have drawn attention due to their singularity. From the early studies of Josep Puig i Cadafalch (1867–1956) to the present, both the iconographic program and the chronology of the paintings have fueled controversy among scholars. In particular, chronological estimates range from the time of Early Christian Art to the Carolingian period. However, a recent technical study of the paintings seems to confirm an early date around the 6th century. This new data allows us to reassess the question in other terms and explore a new possible context for the paintings. First, it is very likely that the choice of iconographic topics was related to the debates on the Arian heresy that took place in Visigothic Spain during the 5th and 6th centuries. Secondly, the paintings of Sant Miquel should be reconsidered as a possible reception of a larger 6th-century pictorial tradition linked to the Eastern Mediterranean, which is used in a very particular way. However, thus far we ignore which were the means for this artistic transmission as well as the reasons which led the “doers” of Terrassa to select such a peculiar and unique repertoire of topics, motifs, and inscriptions. My paper addresses all these questions in order to propose a new Mediterranean framework for the making of this singular set of paintings.
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