Caitlin Watson, a member of KHA’s architectural staff, is presenting her research about Narciso Tome’s El Transparente in the Cathedral of Toledo at the Society of Architectural Historians International Conference in Pasedena, California, on April 7.
Caitlin’s paper, “Tome’s Tabernacle: Transubstantiating Light,” examines the influence of concurrent shifts in artistic, theological, and philosophical thought in 17th- and 18th-century Spain on the commission and design of El Transparente (1729-1732), a magnificent Baroque altarpiece in the ambulatory directly behind the Cathedral’s main altar. Cardinal Astorga y Cespedes commissioned Tome to design the addition to the altar following a visit during which he was horrified by the lack of direct illumination of the tabernacle. At the center of the enormous sculptural work, depicting a multitude of angels, saints, prophets, and cardinals, is an oculus cut through the vaulted ceiling allowing sunlight from a corresponding exterior window to illuminate the tabernacle below. Caitlin explores the intention of the architecture to provide light against the backdrop of changes in doctrine within the Catholic Church and how it influenced this bold undertaking even at the risk of the Cathedral’s structural integrity.
Caitlin joined KHA in 2015, and is currently a member of the design team for an addition to a New York City public school. She received a Master of Architecture degree from McGill University and a Bachelor or Architecture from the University of Tennessee, where she served as a teaching assistant for drawing and visual design theory. Her paper for SAH is a continuation of her master thesis research about the relationship between light, vision, and intention within Catholic architecture of the Early Modern Era.
For more information about the SAH Conference, click here.