Casa Lleó Morera

A Modernista Masterpiece by Domènch i Montaner

Casa Lleó Morera by Lluís Domènech i Montaner was the last major building to be completed on what became known as the Manzana de la Discòrdia.

Located at Nº 35 Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona's Eixample district, it was a remodeling of the old Casa Rocamora built in 1864 and was completed in 1906. 

That year, the house was awarded first prize in the first Competition For Artistic Buildings organised by the Barcelona City Council.

The interior of Casa Lleó Morera was restored in 2012 and the first two floors can now be visited by the public.


A Modernista Masterpiece

Casa Lleó Morera Facade

The original owner of Casa Rocamora was Antoni Morera i Busó.  He left the building to his niece Francesca, who decided to have the building restored in 1902.

At the time, the Modernista architectural movement was in full flow and as new bourgeois money flowed into the Eixample, house owners tried to outdo each other by commissioning ever more ambitious projects.

Francesca Morera commissioned Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who at the time was at least as highly-regarded, if not more so, than Antoni Gaudí and he set about putting together an all star cast of Modernista craftsmen and artists. 

Mario Maragaliano and Lluís Bru worked on the mosaics, Antoni Serra i Fiter on ceramics, Antoni Rigalt i Blanch on stained-glass windows and 
Gaspar Homar and Josep Pey on interior design.

The real star of the team, though, was Eusebi Arnau who was commissioned to produce some original sculptures for the house.

The result was a Modernista masterpiece, which Catalan architecture critic Lluís Permanyer has described as "a Palau de la Música Catalana at a reduced scale".

A Victim of Vandalism

What many people don't realise is that Modernisme went out of fashion well before the deaths of its main architects Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner and Puig i Cadafalch in the 1920s.

It was replaced by the rather bland Noucentista architectural movement and many of the buildings began to fall into disrepair.

Furthermore, when the Spanish Civil War began in 1936, many Modernista building were seen as opulent symbols of the bourgeoisie and were deliberately vandalised.

Whether deliberate or not, the turrets on the roof of Casa Lleó Morera were seriously damaged by machine gun fire during the violence.

Fortunately, they were successfully restored by architect and historian Oscar Tusquets in the 1980s.

In the Name of Leather Handbags

Eusebi Arnau Sculpture For Casa Lleó Morera

However, the worst vandalism was perpetrated during the Franco period by the leather company Loewe, which still occupies the ground floor of the building.

In 1943, the Catalan architect - if that is what he can be called - Raimon Duran i Reynals was commissioned to reform the ground floor and make space for a shop.

His workmen set about pulling out the Modernista windows and Eusebi Arnau's sculptures of Modernist damsels and smashing them with pickaxes on the pavement.

Fortunately, the doorman managed to save some of the heads (shown in the photo).

He sold them to Salvador Dalí and they can now be seen at Dalí's Theatre-Museum in Figueres.

Robert Hughes on Loewe

This is what Australian architecture critic Robert Hughes has to say about Loewe in his magnificent book on the city - Barcelona.

"Across the street one could see even worse vandalism inflicted on Domènech i Montaner's Casa Lleó Morera by a luxury leather goods firm named Loewe.

These handbag makers tore out the whole street-level facade, destroying its sculptures by Eusebi Arnau, along with all the rest of the decorative detail, and stuck in plate glass instead.

No one who cares for architecture should ever buy anything from Loewe on principle."

Visiting Casa Lleó Morera

Casa Lleó Morera
Passeig de Gràcia, 35 
08007 Barcelona


Metro Passeig de Gràcia - Purple L2 Line, Green L3 Line, Yellow L4 Line

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