For those of us addicted to the Romanesque, the wealth of eleventh- and twelfth-century frescoes in the National Museum of Catalan Art is among the highlights of Barcelona, even more exciting, it could be argued, than the city’s much-vaunted examples of Antoni Gaudí’s architecture. (Let’s not discuss the ethics of detaching the paintings from the walls of the small, remote churches for which they were conceived and moving them into a neutral, non-ecclesiastical setting.) For New Yorkers, failing a trip to Barcelona, the next best thing is a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s treasure house of medieval art and architecture, The Cloisters. To console us for the lack of the riches of Barcelona, there is, for instance, a fresco of a fabulous, enormous dromedary (possibly 1129–34), from the monastery of San Baudelio de Berlanga, Castile-Léon. The animated, stylized beast is...


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