Eighteen months ago the National Gallery's Sacred Made Real exhibition was the surprise hit of the winter season.

Its dramatic display of powerfully (sometimes gruesomely) realistic Spanish Golden Age religious sculptures and paintings was a revelation. Seeing works such as these in the Spanish churches and monasteries for which they were created is an even more moving experience than viewing them in the pristine conditions of the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing.Eighteen months ago the National Gallery's Sacred Made Real exhibition was the surprise hit of the winter season. Its dramatic display of powerfully (sometimes gruesomely) realistic Spanish Golden Age religious sculptures and paintings was a revelation. Seeing works such as these in the Spanish churches and monasteries for which they were created is an even more moving experience than viewing them in the pristine conditions of the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing. The 16th edition of the annual Las Edades del Hombre exhibition brings together painted and sculpted depictions of Christ's passion from churches and monasteries all over the region of Castilla y León. Every year the exhibition moves to a different location. This summer it is split between two small towns roughly equidistant from Valladolid " Medina de Rioseco and Medina del Campo. While there are works on show in several venues, the main exhibitions are in the churches of Santiago de Caballeros in Medina de Rioseco and Santiago el Real in Medina del Campo " both named for St James as they were on pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The interiors, with their richly encrusted and gilded altarpieces, form a perfect backdrop for the works on show. Castillian art is characterised by high drama, and viewing it can be something of an emotional roller coaster. This year, for the first time, contemporary pieces are displayed alongside those from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.This art is very much part of a living tradition. During Holy Week, the sculptures are paraded through the streets, bringing the sacred to life and inspiring religious passion among devotees. Their ability to shock and move rests on their powerfully realistic portrayal of the sufferings of Christ.

Churches in Castille y Leon, Spain

Back to top