Controversies Spain

Legal battle over medieval frescos saved during Spanish Civil War

Aragon renews its claim to paintings now in Catalan museum

The disputed frescos, courtesy of MNAC

The government of Aragon, an autonomous region in the north east of Spain, is formally asking the neighbouring government of Catalonia to return Romanesque frescos that are in the collection of the Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña, Barcelona, the Spanish newspaper, El País reports.

The frescoes, which date from the early 13th century, were saved during the Spanish Civil War from the monastery of Santa María la Real de Sijena, which was badly damaged during the conflict.

Aragon has long claimed the frescos. This year the order of nuns, which has used what remains of the monastery buildings since the 1980s, ceded the historic property in the province of Huesca in the Spanish pyrenees to the Aragonese government. Aragon and the Fondación Caja Madrid spent €3.3m restoring the monastery between 1988 and 2009, according to the regional government's website.

A spokeswoman for the museum declined to comment on the legal battle over the medieval frescos, saying it was a matter for the governments of Aragon and Catalonia.

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28 Aug 13
4:19 CET


This is a tough one! The MNAC museum provides a great venue with many examples of Romanesque frescoes. But the investment in the Aragorn location strengthens their claim to return the frescoes.

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