Chronological framework

Second half of the 13th century

Geographical Framework

Ribagorza (Catalan and Aragon municipalities)


Tempera painting, gesso, tinfoil and glaze

Profile and historiographical debate

The identity of the alleged painter Iohannes derives from the inscription: IOħS PINTOR ME FECIT (Iohannes pintor me hizo), which is still visible in the lower bezel of the frame in the altar frontal of altar de Sant Martí de Gia, today preserved in the MNAC (3902). This altar frontal is associated with the works belonging the Workshop of Ribagorza, which is also known as Workshop or School of Roda de Isábena or Lleida). These works are mainly altar frontals that come from several churches within the region of Ribagorza, today administered by the municipalities of Aragon and Catalonia.

This inscription has been quoted by scholars many times due to the lack of similar inscriptions. The hitoriographical debate on Iohannes has mailny dealt with his role within the workshop as well as on the works that could be attributed to him. It is considered that Iohannes would have been the master of the workshop (GUDIOL I CUNILL 1928 o CARBONELL et al. 1997) as well as the maker of most of the works (POST 1930 [1970] o CARBONELL-LAMOTHE 1974). On the other hand, most scholars have paid attention to the use of the Romanesque form "pintor" instead on the latin form "pictor", which belongs to the main laguage of the rest of the captions in the frontal (AINAUD 1989). To some scholars (COOK 1929) the presence of this signature could be evidence for the later chronology of the work. In this regard, it has been said that the inscription will bear a reference to the value of the artist's work.

Since the last years, this inscription has been studied as a single one and the altar frontal of Gia was considered the only work from the workshop that had been signed. Nevertheless, a recent study by Montserrat Pagès (PAGÈS 2011), has led the scholar to the conclusion that the signature of Iohannes is also present in the altar frontal of Santa Maria de Cardet (MNAC 3903). In this case, the signature is partially preserved with the form: [I]OH[ANNES] PIN[TOR]. In this regard, this inscription is similar to the inscription in the altar frontal of Gia and is placed on the middle of the lower bezel of the frontal.


  • Altar frontal of Sant Martí de Gia (MNAC 3902)
  • Altar frontal of Santa Maria de Cardet (MNAC 3903)



On the upper part of the frame of the altar frontal of Gia there are two shields with the forefront parts extremely erased in which an hypothetical heraldic representation could lead to the identification of the patrons.

Epigraphic Sources

  • IOħS PINTOR ME FECIT (the painter Johannes made me). Altar frontal of Sant Martí de Gia.
  • [I]OH[ANNES] PIN[TOR]. (the painter Johannes). Altar frontal of Santa Maria de Cardet.


Text: Marta Bertran


GUDIOL I CUNILL 1928: 7; COOK 1929: 20; POST 1930 [1970]: 272; CARBONELL-LAMOTHE 1974: 76; SUREDA 1977: 247; BORRÁS-GARCÍA 1978: 400-405; AINAUD 1989: 107-113; CAMPS 1992: 193; PAGÈS 1992: 189-190; GARCIA 1993: 354; GONZÁLEZ 1994: 392-393; CARABASSA 1996: 275-276; CARBONELL et al. 1997: 162-163; PAGÈS 2011: 203-211; CASTIÑEIRAS 2012a: 83-87; CASTIÑEIRAS 2012b: 15-30.