Josep Maria Sert

Catalan Decorator and Painter of Murals

Josep Maria Sert was a Catalan painter, who decorated the interiors of public and private buildings around the world. He is best known for his murals, many stand out for his use of the grisaille technique. 

Josep Maria Sert i Badia was born in Barcelona on December 21st 1874 into a rich family of textile manufacturers.

After attending a Jesuit School, Sert went on to study Fine Art at the Escola d'Arts i Oficis de la Llotja in Barcelona as well taking private classes with various artists, including furniture designer Pere Borrell del Caso and pre-Raphaelite and symbolist painter, Alexandre de Riquer.

Riquer was one of the founders of the Cercle Artístic de Sant Lluc, which Sert would join and through this group of Catholic artists would meet Josep Torras i Bages, who as Bishop of Vic would later commission one of Sert's major works.

In 1899, he moved to Paris and he began to receive his first important commissions, which often involved his returning to Catalonia to work.

During the First World War he helped contacts between Catalan manaufacturers and the French government and during the Second Spanish Republic, he was cultural attache to the Spanish Embassy in Paris.

Following the destruction of his work in the Cathedral of Vic and the murder of his friend Jaume Serra during the Spanish Civil War, Sert became sympathetic to the Francoist dictatorship but was never considered one of the preferred artists of the new regime.

During the Civil War, Sert was responsible for saving many of the paintings in the Museu del Prado which he deposited with the League of Nations in Geneva.

Throughout his life, he received many awards and honours and his work can be found around the world in countries such as France, Belgium, Italy, Great Britain, Switzerland and the United States.

There are examples of Sert's work throughout Catalonia and Spain but his best-known decorations are in the Cathedral of Vic, which were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War and which Sert painstakingly restored in the last years of his life.

Other notable examples can be found in the Saló de Croniques at the City Hall in Barcelona and the Palau Maricel in Sitges.

Josep Maria Sert died in Barcelona on November 27th 1945 and his body lies in the Vic Cathedral.


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