Works Spanning the Modernista and Noucentista Periods of Catalan Architecture
If you look at the sheer quantity of buildings and projects by Josep Puig i Cadafalch in Barcelona, you realise that he is the most prolific but often the least consistent of the three great Modernista architects.
Born in 1867, Josep Puig i Cadafalch was 15 years younger than Gaudí and 17 years younger than Domènech i Montaner under whom he studied architecture in Barcelona and who definitely influenced his early Modernista period.
In fact, the buildings by Puig i Cadafalch in Barcelona can be divided into three broad periods.
The Modernista period lasts roughly from 1895 to 1905 and includes the majority of his most attractive buildings, such as Casa Martí, Casa Amatller and the Casa de les Punxes amongst others, which are often referred to as Urban Gothic Palaces..
Overlapping this period are a number of buildings, such as Casa Trinxet, Casa Muntades and Casa Company, which have been described as Rational Idealist or more simply the White Period and bearing in mind the tastes of his bourgeois clients, are a little less ornate.
The final period of Puig i Cadafalch in Barcelona uses Monumental, Neoclassical and Neo-Baroque elements in what became known as the Noucentista architectural style, which coincided with the run up to the 1929 Barcelona Universal Exhibition, and in many ways was a backlash against the ornamentation of Modernisme.
Like Domènech i Montaner, Puig i Cadafalch was also a Catalanist politician, who was actually President of the regional government the Mancomunitat of Catalonia between 1917 and 1924, so much of his work involves Catalan nationalist symbols.
He had difficulty working under the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera, went into exile in France during the Spanish Civil War and on his return to Barcelona in 1942 was prohibited from working as an architect by the Franco regime.
1896 – Casa Martí
Casa Martí was Puig i Cadafalch’s first major project in Barcelona and was commissioned by the in-laws of the textile magnate Francesc Vilumara.
With its polychrome windows and ornamented balconies, the house is more North European in style than Catalan and it is worth noting the sculptures by Eusebi Arnau, the wrought ironwork by Manuel Ballarín and Josep Llimona’s stautue of Sant Josep on the corner.
In 1897, the ground floor was occupied by the Quatre Gats café, where Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol accepted a young Pablo Picasso into their group of Modernista artists and musicians.
The bar is still open to the public and retains much of the original decoration with paintings by Casas, Rusiñol and other Modernista luminaries.
1898 – Casa on Carrer Boqueria
Commissioned by the owners of Casa Martí, the building has had many uses including being home to the Fonda Sucursal del Universo.
This unremarkable house has a sgraffito facade topped by parapets and as usual the wrought is by Manuel Ballarín and the doorway is flanked by two sculptures by Eusebi Arnau.
The building was restored in 2009 and now houses the Petit Palace Boqueria Hotel.
1898-1900 – Casa Amatller
Considered one of Puig i Cadafalch’s masterpieces and located alongside Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and Domènech i Montaner’s Casa Lleó Morera on the Manzana de la Discordia, Casa Amatller was commissioned by chocolate manufacturer Antoni Amatller i Costa.
It is fact a remodelation of a house built in 1875 that Amatller wanted transformed into an Urban Gothic Palace.
Puig i Cadafalch put together a particularly talented group of collaborators for this project and the sculptures by Eusebi Arnau and Alfons Juyol are really something special.
Following a period of restoration, Casa Amatller opens to the public again in February 2014.
1900 – Casa-Estudi Fotògrafs Napoleon
When the pioneering photographers Napoleon moved from their former premises in Plaça de l’Àngel, they commissioned Puig i Cadafalch to restore the ground floor of this three-storey building by Francesc Rogent.
This was where the very first movie using Lumiere technology was projected in Barcelona.
Unfortunately nothing remains of the original photographic studio as it was converted into Frontó Colom in 1941.
1901 – Palau Macaya
I don’t know much about the owners of this charming urban residence but the white facade, sgraffito and ornamented gothic windows are typical early Puig i Cadafalch.
However, the building is considered the first example of the architect’s white period.
The sculptures and capitals are by Eusebi Arnau and you should look out for the figure of the man on the bicycle next to the door,which is supposedly is the architect rushing between jobs as he had so much work on at the time.
In 2012, the house was converted into the Caixa Espai exhibition space so if you visit you will see the fine entrance, interior patio and stone stairway.