Chronological framework

ca. 1180-1221

Geographical Framework

Catalonia (Vallès Occidental, Gironès, Bages)



Profile and historiographical debate

Arnau Cadell or Catell was a sculptor and architect active in Catalonia the last quarter of the 12th century and the first decades of the 13th century. The authorship of the capitals of the cloister of Girona’s Cathedral and Sant Cugat’s monastery, as well as the portals of Sant Pere d’Or in Santpedor and Santa Maria in Manresa have been attributed to him and his workshop. Being the first Catalan artist known by his name and surname, he portrayed himself in a capital of the eastern side of the cloister of Sant Cugat del Vallès sculpting a Corinthian capital beside a caption that states he was the author.

Cadell worked as an architect, sculptor and master builder managing a local workshop that travelled to work with a wide range of ornamentation characterized by the predominance of vegetal compositions, based on pearled or striated stems and arum canes that draw different forms in the friezes and the capitals. This pieces demonstrate how the workshop had a good manner to illustrate historicized scenes with a narrative sense that come from the Old Testament (with episodes of the first book from the Creation of Eve to Jacob arrives at Laban’s Home, showing passages of the Samson story) and New Testament (Visitation, Nativity, Epiphany, Massacre of the Innocents, Jesus arrival to Jerusalem). The secular scenes are also very developed, with references to the Bestiary, hunting scenes and Psychomaquia, as a long variety dedicated to the job of the builder (stonemason, self-portrait of the author). Among the characteristics of the workshop there is the presence of a continued frieze in pillars and the framing of the historicized scenes with architectonic elements, little towers in the corners, finished with battlements or conical covering.

The vegetal repertoire of the workshop has points of contact with the so-called second Languedoc flora which was also present at the second workshop of the Daurade of Toulouse, in the cloister of St. Sernin and the sculpture of Saint-Etienne’S Cathedral, and specially the sculpture of the third Daurade workshop.

Arnau Cadell was worthy of certain recognition by the monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès because of his artistic activity. This may be deduced from his presence as a witness in both documents from 1206 and 1207, related to the said monastery.

The terminus post quem for his activity comes from the works in the cloister of Girona’s Cathedral, where the workshop was between 1180 and 1190. Its terminus ante quem is given by his will formalized on 13th October 1221, which was recently found among different parchments inside the drawer of Wills in Pia Almoina del Pa in Girona. The cloister of Sant Cugat was built in the times of the abbot Guillem of Avinyó (1174-1205). In 1190 Guillem de Claramunt gave –as it says his will– 1000 Barcelona sous and a donkey to the cloister works.

In F. P. Verrié’s (1953) opinion, Arnau Cadell should be, more than a simple sculptor, “the director, even the designer, of the whole building”. Those architect and master builder profiles were developed by Josep Gudiol i Cunill and Inmaculada Lorés (1995), who places Cadell as the manager of a specialized sculpture workshop that depends on the third Daurade workshop but also as the one who was in charge of the architectonical areas of the building. 


  • Cloister of Girona Cathedral
  • Cloister of Sant Cugat del Vallès
  • Portal of Sant Pere d’Or in Santpedor
  • Portal of Santa Maria de Manresa


Guillem d’Avinyó (1174-1205)

Epigraphic Sources

The signature is placed in the North-eastern pillar of the cloister. Against this pillar we can see a representation of a sculptor working with a Corinthian capital, scene identified as a self-portrait of the sculptor: HEC EST ARNALLI SCULPTORIS FORMA CATELLI QUI CLAUSTRUM TALE CONSTRUXIT PERPETUALE (This is the depiction of the sculptor Arnau Cadell, who this cloister built in perpetuity).

Documentary Sources

The will of Arnau Cadell, done 13th October 1221, was included in the XVIII century next to different parchments inside the drawer of Wills in Pia Almoina del Pa in Girona. The will has the signature “Arnallus Catelli”.

Text: Carles Sánchez Márquez


FARRERAS 1904: 15; GUDIOL I CUNILL 1912: 437-478; BERTAUX 1922: 214-295; SOLER I MARCH 1926: 7-14; GARRIGA 1929: 12-15; BALTRUSAITIS 1931; GUDIOL I RICART-GAYA NUÑO 1948: V, 85-88; RÀFOLS I 1951: 248; VERRIÉ 1953: 21-24; PUIG I CADAFALCH 1949-1954: 104-105; ALCOLEA 1959: 177-188; CARDÚS 1957; SALET 1959: 225-228; JUNYENT 1976: 118-159; AMBRÒS I MONSONÍS 1980: 35-37; YARZA 1984: 11; DALMASES-JOSÉ I PITARCH 1986: 243-250; LORÉS 1986, REVILLA 1989: 200-208; LORÉS 1990; MARIÑO 1990: 64-66; LORÉS 1995: 23-33; BARRAL 1997: 160-164; MARQUÈS 2008: 163-168.