BURNAND, Master of

Chronological framework

Second quarter or middle of 12th century

Geographical Framework

France, Burgundy (Saone-et-Loire, north of Cluny) with references to Catalonia (Seu d’Urgell, Roda) and Castille-León


Fresco on lime wash, displayed on plaster (lime and sand). Use of natural oxides (yellow, red ochre) and organic black. No pigment analysis. Romanesque layer partly under Gothic layer


Profile and historiographical debate

The style of the Burnand Master presents strong relationships with Catalonia. The apostle figures are massive and almost sculptural, with clothes painted in flat surfaces, enhanced by thick folds and typical white highlights in three point series.  These elements and the pictorial technique of fleshes, as well as the particular form of some veiled hands, seems to come directly from models like the antependium of la Seu d’Urgell (ca. 1120). Technical similarities are so close that we suppose the Burnand Master has been trained in a Catalan workshop. The Roda Bible (second quarter of 11th cent.) could also have been used for the reference to the lion with undulated coat. Another indication is situated at the entrance of the Burnand apse, where a figure is wearing a short tunic, with flared sleeves and pointed shoes, according to a typology found in Catalonia (Burgal, Seu d’Urgell), in some Cistercian manuscripts and in western French paintings of the second quarter and middle of the 12th century.

Relationship exists also with the wall paintings of Saint-Chef-en-Dauphiné, near Lyon, which shows Iberic characteristics. In the central bay of the Burnand apse, there is a vegetal element, kind of tree with branches ending like mushrooms, detail which is present in Saint-Chef-en-Dauphiné (inferior Saint-Clement chapel). 

The paintings of Burnand are briefly described by L. Blondaux in the general catalogue of wall paintings in Burgundy and dated from the beginning of the 12th century, and nothing else gives us matter to historiographical discussion.


We know that relationships between Cluny and Catalonia are testified since a long time, especially with the abbot of Ripoll, Oliba who became abbot of Saint-Michael of Cuxa in 1011, than bishop of Vich in 1018. 

The identification of patrons for the Burnand church is difficult to find. The church is mentioned in the cartulary of Saint-Vincent of Mâcon in the 11th century (ecclesia Sanctorum Martini et Nicetii de Burnant) as a dependence from the bishop of Mâcon. In a charter from the Abbey of Cluny, dated from 1142, appears the name of Petrus de Burniaco  being present for the signature of an act by Gauthier, bishop of Chalon, concerning a chapel at Burgum Novum. Then the documentation is mute till the 17th century.

Text: Juliette Rollier-Hanselmann



BLONDEAU 1992; 212-213; FETON 1995; FRANZE 2011; ROLLIER-HANSELMANN 2011; 180-197; VIREY 1935; 112.