Elephant. Hermitage of San Baudelio. Casillas de Berlanga (Soria)Ca. 1125. Fresco painting on mural transferred to canvas, 205 x 135 cm.
This set of mural paintings that adorned the interior of the early eleventh-century Mozarabe church of San Baudelio de Berlanga was taken off the walls and exported to the United States in 1926, where it was divided among different institutions. Pieces from that set are now exhibited in museums in Boston and Indianapolis, and at the Cloisters Museum in New York. The six fragments were part of the decoration of the inner register of the nave of the Hermitage of San Baudelio, and the front of the choir stalls. All of the subjects were secular. The compositions are simple, using primary colors, and the figures are flat, with very summary profiles. The present piece was originally located on the wall running along the platform west of the body of the hermitage, alongside the Bear (P07263), from which it was separated by a band of color that delimits it and the rest of the secular paintings. Here, the backgrounds also vary, with red for the elephant, and a lighter color for the bear. The elephant symbolizes humility and is associated with Christ. He carries a castle on his back, which the medieval text that explains animal symbolism, the Physiology, associates with humankind´s ills and suffering. Access to the six fragments: Elephant (P07264); Hare Hunting (P07265); Deer Hunting (P07268); Soldier or Beater (P07266); Curtain (P07267); Bear (P07263).