Josep Puig i Cadafalch
Passeig de Gràcia, 41 – Barcelona
Antoni Amatller Costa was born in Barcelona in 1851, into a family of chocolatiers, and became a representative for the Catalan illustrated bourgeoisie by the turn of the century, born from the Renaixença and who, among other things, made modernism possible thanks to his patronage. He married Cándida Cros Circuns, and they had a daughter, Teresa Amatller Cros. They separated, and as specified in the separation documents, Teresa went to live with her father at the age of four. Antoni Amatller never remarried. Candida went to live in Italy and remarried when she became a widow in 1910. His daughter, Teresa, never lost contact with her mother. During the Spanish Civil War, she emigrated to Italy with her mother and when the war ended she brought her back to Barcelona, buying her a flat in Via Augusta Street.
Images of the Casa Amatller and the Chocolates Amatller factory
Antoni Amatller Costa (1851-1910), son of Antoni Amatller Ràfols, was the successor of the Chocolates Amatller factory. At the age of 19, recently married, his father and uncle sent him on a training trip abroad, where he visited the main Swiss and French chocolate factories so that he could prepare to take over the business. In 1878, he built a new factory in Sant Martí de Porvençals with the most modern German and French machinery. He incorporated advertising techniques into the company to expand its market. He was a photographer-traveller who toured Morocco (1903), Istanbul (1905) and Egypt (1909) taking photographs, as well as participating in international amateur photography competitions. He was also an important collector of archaeological glass, which today is kept in Casa Amatller.
The impulse for the collection was initiated by Antoni Amatller, who gathered together more than four hundred pieces, of which more than ninety percent are antiquities. His daughter, Teresa Amatller, added a further hundred pieces but her interest lied in both old and modern glass. After the death of Teresa Amatller, the collection was placed in the custody of the Amatller Foundation, which Teresa had created in 1942. The collection was enriched by a further 350 pieces from the collection Joan Prats Tomás and his wife, M. Dolores Sedó Peris-Mencheta, who was president of the Foundation between 1960 and 1973. With this contribution, the number of pieces of glass in the collection already exceeds 750.
Teresa was the result of the marriage between Antoni Amatller and Cándida Cros Circuns. She never married and therefore did not have descendants. Her father had written a clause in his will specifying his wish that the house and the Amatller collections go to the Barcelona City Council to open the Amatller Museum if Teresa died without children. Consequently, in 1942, Teresa decided to create the Amatller Institute of Hispanic Art Foundation and asked Josep M. Gudiol Ricart to draft a basic plan for the new foundation. Using as inspiration the solution adopted by the American philanthropist and collector Helen Clay Frick (1888-1984), daughter of steel and coal tycoon, Henry Clay Frick (1849-1919), with the Frick Collection in her residence in New York, and the Frick Art Library, Gudiol proposed the Amatller Foundation. Gudiol knew the Frick Collection quite well since he had worked on it for six months in 1930. The Instituto Amatller de Arte Hispánico Foundation was born with two purposes: on the one hand, the conservation of the house and the collections, and on the other, the propulsion of the investigation of the history of art through the Instituto Amatller de Arte Hispánico.
Josep Puig i Cadafalch was born in Mataró on October 17, 1867 and died in Barcelona in 1956. He was an architect, art historian and Catalan politician. He went to a great effort to defend his country in order to see it restored to its greatest splendour once again. He studied languages and the legal system of the Middle Ages in Catalonia. He specialised in Romanesque art and published works on the matter which brought him international fame. He promoted the excavations of Empúries from 1908 onwards. Son of Joan Puig i Bruguera and Teresa Cadafalch i Borgunyó, he studied at the School of Santa Anna dels Escolapis in Mataró. The family produced fabrics in Mataró. From a young age, he participated in literary collaborations where his patriotic feeling could already be appreciated. Puig i Cadafalch interpreted the need to be familiar with the history of our country in order to create a national narrative which could stand up against the current centralism.
Ha mort aquella raça que un dia va engendrar-me?
Dels Berenguers i Jofres un sol no n’ha quedat?
Han mort ja tots els Jaumes que un dia van contemplar-me?
I les barres catalanes, quin llamp les ha trencat?
Puig i Cadafalch’s interest in history, the arts and the sciences lead him, in 1883, to study architecture at the Provincial School of Architecture. At the same time, he studied Physical Chemistry at the University of Barcelona. As a student, he became involved in politics and went on to be part of the Catalanist School, the student section of the Valentí Almirall Catalan Centre. There, he met important figures in the world of political Catalanism such as Enric Prat de la Riba and Francesc Cambó. He graduated in Physical Sciences and Mathematics in 1889 in Madrid, and in 1891 he finished his architecture studies in Barcelona. He was highly admired by the director of the school, Elies Rogent and his professor, Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
The Casa Amatller is a remodelling of the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, carried out between 1898 and 1900. The house already existed, it was a building built in 1875 by the master builder Antoni Robert and known as Casa Martorell. A three-story, neoclassical-style building, typical of the Cerdà Plan. Antoni Amatller bought the building in 1898 and commissioned Puig to do a remodelling. Puig i Cadafalch specifically intervened in the reformation of the façade, main floor, the lobby, the common spaces (neighbour’s staircase and interior patio), and the photographic studio at the gable end of the house. Puig i Cadafalch began his project with several sketches of the façade that today are kept in the National Archive of Catalonia and were among those that Puig hid in his own house during the dictatorship. The strong personality of the owner and his interests are reflected in the architect’s work.
Puig broke the homogeneity that the Cerdà Plan put forward with its proposal, not only because the building exceeded the height allowed by Barcelona City Council, but also with the use of different materials that added colour to the facade: ceramics, iron, graffiti, stained glass. In the majestic foyer of Casa Amatller, Espinagosa’s large skylight stands out, which allows natural light to enter, as well as the main staircase made of marble that provides access to the main floor.
Located in the warmest area of the house and with access to the block’s patio. The floors are made of marble and the furniture is the work of the Salat brothers, in a medieval style. The ceiling, with wooden beams, takes us back to a bygone era. The majestic fireplace is a highlight with an allegory of trade between Europe and America which refers to the owner's chocolatier trade, the work of the sculptor Eusebi Arnau.
The living room in the Amatller House exhibits part of the Amatller glass collection, including some that were designed by Puig i Cadafalch himself. It is lit by a large central lamp and presided over by a bust of Antoni Amatller by the sculptor Eusebi Arnau. On the bedroom door, we can see a second definition of the owner, in an allegory about collecting, flanked by a heron with a bag of money and a pair of owls that symbolize, respectively, the strict control of the economy and constant vigilance.
On the bedroom door, we can see an allegory about femininity, accompanied by a kitten with balls of wool, in reference to the adjoining work room, and a dog which signifies the values of fidelity. The furniture in the bedroom and the work room were made by the cabinetmaker, Gaspar Homar.
The study is in the centre of the main floor, and can be accessed both from the main door and from the neighbours’ door. It was the place where Amatller probably received visitors and where he could concentrate on his work. The roof stands out, one of the most worked in the house, where Puig combined the sgraffito with polychrome and glazed ceramics, covering and decorating the beams.
The Block of Discord is the name given by the people of Barcelona to the group of houses which stand along Paseo de Gracia, between the Aragó and Consell de Cent streets. In this block, in Barcelona’s Eixample, we find three houses represented by the three most important architects of Modernism: Casa Amatller (1898-1900) by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Casa Lleó i Morera (1902-1906) by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and Casa Batlló (1904-1906) by Antoni Gaudí.
The transformation of the Block of Discord (1898-1906)
The Paseo de Gracia was the main axis of the Cerdà Plan between the years 1860 and 1890. Along it, a set of single-family houses or mansions was established, such as those of the Marquises of Marianao family, and the Robert family … In 1891, the City Council changed the existing legislation, increasing buildability and reducing restrictions in the composition of the facades. This modification in the legislation meant that many single-family houses or mansions were replaced by residential buildings. The permission to change the composition of the facades and the possibility of complementing the buildings with decorative finials or ornamental elements that stood out erased the proposal of homogeneity of the Cerdà Plan, and provoked the reformation of many of existing buildings’ facades.
In 1942, Teresa Amatller Cros instructed Josep Gudiol to create the Amatller Institute of Hispanic Art Foundation with a double purpose: the conservation of the Amatller house and its collections; and the propulsion of research in Hispanic art. The Foundation was to be governed by a board.
The first objective was fulfilled since the death of Teresa Amatller in 1960 with the opening of the Amatller House Museum in March 2015. For the second purpose, a library was created that today contains approximately 30,000 volumes of Spanish art and a photo library with more than 350,000 photographs of Spanish heritage. To add to the photographic archive, Teresa Amatller bought the Mas Archive. Adolf Mas was a photographer who worked on documentary photography and went on expeditions throughout Spain photographing heritage. Years later, the archives of other photographers were added, thus expanding the collection.