Catalan Modernisme and Noucentisme, Maricel Museum

A hall dedicated to “Modernisme” in Sitges with the paintings that decorated “Cerveseria del Cau Ferrat” (Santiago Rusiñol, Arcadi Mas i Fondevila, Joaquim de Miro, Antoni Almirall, Càndid Duran) and “Noucentisme” (Joaquim Sunyer, Pere Jou, Lola Anglada, Enric Casanovas, Ismael Smith, Xavier Nogués, Josep M. Gol, Josep Clarà, Pau Gargallo, Jaume Otero, Josep Granyer and Apel·les Fenosa, among others).

The Cau Ferrat beer cellar
The friendship and artistic complicity of the painters of the luminist school with the modernista artists, as denoted in the 1892 Fine Arts Exhibition ,entered a second chapter three years later with the renovation of the Café Continental on Passeig de la Ribera.

Arcadi Mas i Fondevila, Joaquim de Miró, Antoni Almirall, Càndid Duran, Santiago Rusiñol and Miquel Utrillo executed a set of paintings to decorate the new premises. The former café reopened under the name of Cerveseria Cau Ferrat, the same name of the house-cum-studio that Rusiñol had had in Sitges since 1893.

Càndid Duran painted a humorous portrait of participants in the work Els pintamones, where we see Santiago Rusiñol in the foreground, followed Duran himself, Almirall, Miró, Mas i Fondevila and Utrillo, accompanied by Love, Rusiñol’s little dog.


The malvasia harvest
Joaquim de Miró i Argenter, 1895, Sitges, oil on canvas.

This painting by Joaquim de Miró i Argenter (Sitges, 1849-1914) comes from the Cau Ferrat beer cellar on Passeig de la Ribera, Sitges.

In the last few years of the 19th century, beer cellars became fashionable establishments among artistic circles in several European capitals.

Joaquim de Miró was the most prolific, active and outstanding member of the Sitges Luminist School. His eye for detail, the way he captured everyday scenes, his attention to composition and his devotion to landscape made his work a faithful reflection not only of the geographical characteristics of Sitges at the time, but also the serene, placid atmosphere that idyllically prevailed over local society at the end of the century.

The painters of Modernisme

Catalan modernista painting is a unique style.

Between the last decade of the 19th and first of the 20th centuries, a set of different trends coexisted that shared the desire to break away from the Academicism and Realism that had predominated throughout the second half of the 19th century.

Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol, among others, brought the influence of French art to Catalonia, from Naturalism to Symbolism, and thereby became the pioneers of modernity. In the context of these artistic strands, the work of Catalan artists, who used free, unconventional, brush strokes,veered between social commitment and decorativism.

At the turn of the century, Rusiñol continued his search for new expressions with his painting of gardens, while Ramon Casas excelled as a portraitist.


The ‘advances’ of the 19th century
Ramon Casas i Carbó, c. 1901-1902, enamelled polychrome earthenware.

Although most images are of new technological inventions, they also depict historical and social events. The presence of a bullfighter or of a billiard table appear to be reflections on the social importance of these activities.

The way Ramon Casas i Carbó (Barcelona, ​​1866-1932) used archaic iconography and artistic technique to comment on what was then state-of-the-art technology epitomises his fine sense of irony.

Of the twenty-five tiles only one provides a direct clue as to who the artist was. It is a rendering of Casas and Utrillo themselves, accompanied by the words Pèl & Ploma, the journal they had founded in 1899 and continued to publish until 1903.


Rendering the ideal of and reference to Primitivism, Mediterraneanism and the echo of Classicism constitutes the aesthetic basis of noucentista art during the early years of the 20th century. The works of painter Joaquim Sunyer and Jou, Smith and Casanovas belong to this period. Decorativism applied especially to objects and the adoption of certain forms of vernacular art constitute different aspects of the same aesthetic quest.

In the 1920s, the advent of new ‘return to order’ and realist trends, such as New Objectivity, partially modified noucentista precepts, so that the visual arts adapted idealism to a more human way of interpreting reality, without sacrificing a certain lyrical and intimist inspiration.

The strongly individualistic painting by Josep M. Sert adopted a baroque, grandiloquent idiom in his big murals that render modern epics, such as those dedicated to the Great War (1914-1918).


Portrait of Miquel Utrillo
Ismael Smith i Marí, 1910, bronze. Coll.

Ismael Smith i Marí (Barcelona, ​​1886 – New York, 1972) was one of the most unclassifiable Catalan artists from the brief period between Modernisme and Noucentisme.

It is certain that Smith met Miquel Utrillo at the Café Continental in Barcelona, as ​​both of them were regular customers there.

Smith already had a penchant for making small-format figures. The style of the Portrait of Miquel Utrillo by Ismael Smith has the air of light caricature with which he liked to endow his works almost from the beginning of his artistic career.

The elongated styling is also very typical of Smith’s work, both in his sculptural pieces as well as in his drawings and engravings.

Cau Ferrat Collection
The Cau Ferrat Collection is part of the works that entered between 1932 and the fifties of the twentieth century from donations and deposits to the Cau Ferrat Board of Trustees, as well as the works acquired later by Santiago Rusiñol associated with the content of the museum.

Related Post

Many of these works are part of the permanent collection of the Maricel Museum.

Art Collection of the Village of Sitges
The Vila de Sitges Art Collection has its beginning in the popular subscription organized in 1911 as a result of the exhibition of the painter Joaquim Sunyer at the Faianç Català Gallery, in Barcelona, ​​where the oil was purchased Maternity (1908). Initially, it was installed in the City Hall’s Sessions Hall and later in the Maricel Palace’s Blue Room, in what was then called the Local Painting Collection.

The assignment of works of art that are part of the Sitges public heritage has gone through several denominations; in 1995 it was installed in the premises of the Maricel Museum under the name of Pinacoteca Municipal. With the denomination of Art Collection of the Village of Sitges, it accommodates works that, in various media and artistic languages, are part of the aforementioned heritage, obtained through acquisitions and donations.

Works from the 19th and 20th centuries by Joaquim Sunyer, Pere Pruna, Alfred Sisquella, Pere Jou, Lola Anglada, Agustí Ferrer Pino and Artur Carbonell, among others.

Collection of Dr. Jesús Pérez-Rosales
Jesús Pérez-Rosales i Salamillo (Manila, 1896 – Barcelona, ​​1989), doctor, art collector, philanthropist and amateur musician, was born into a wealthy family with large family holdings in the Philippines, by then still part of the Spanish crown. Son of the last Spanish mayor of Manila, the Pérez-Rosales family returned to Spain and settled in Barcelona in 1908 in a manor in Passeig de la Bonanova.

The medical vocation of Pérez-Rosales came from the influence of his grandfather, on his father side, a doctor. He studied medicine at the University of Barcelona (1915-1920) and his doctorate in Madrid, always with bright qualifications. Specializing in Gynecology and Obstetrics, to which he devoted himself professionally until his retirement, he obtained the place of service in the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona and he also worked in private practice. He was the director of Sacred Heart Clinic (Clínica del Sagrado Corazón) for forty years and collaborated with various medical and public and private health centers and became a member of renowned Spanish and foreign institutions such as Société Art Science Humanities. Throughout his professional he received several awards and recognitions as a physician and philanthropist, such as the Cross of Alfonso X el Sabio (1941), the Commandery with plate from the Minister of Interior (1956), Honor Roll of Spanish Doctors (1973), Civil Order Plate of Alfonso X el Sabio (1974) and Knight Commander of the Belgian Crown (1979), among others.

Jesus Pérez-Rosales started to lean towards collecting art during his teenage years. By the year 1936 he already had an important collection divided between the family home and an apartment dedicated entirely to his works of art. He invested the family fortune, at least in part, and his own fortune. The family home of the San Rafael Manor could not be saved from looting during the days of anarchy during the Civil War, but thanks to the intervention and protection of the Minister of Culture of the Catalan Government, Ventura Gasol, it was possible to save part of the collection kept in his apartment.

His work and his prestige were recognized by the authorities and various sectors linked to artistic activities; he was named an honorary member of the Barcelona Provincial Council (1976) “by virtue of the relevant merits accrued by his artistic and cultural donations to this corporation” and correspondent in Sitges of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of St. George (1981) among other awards .The merit of his collection was also recognized in Sitges. He was appointed honorary member of Club Nàutic (1972); Adoptive Son of the City (1974), won the Prize Trinitat Catasús (1976) and square was dedicated to him and he contributed several sculptures.

The model of collector that Pérez-Rosales had in mind was, probably, Frederic Mares (Portbou 1893 – Barcelona, ​​1991).Beyond his dedication to sculpture, Marés treasured a very important collection of ancient art, especially sculpture, but also applied arts. Artist and academic, the fact of linking very soon (1944) his art collection to the City Council of Barcelona and convert it into a museum, granted him the condition of a very special collector with a capacity of intervention in the museum and in other collections, as the old book collection that he donated to Biblioteca de Catalunya.While the professional dedication of Pérez Rosales and his family fortune allowed him to combine medicine and the collection of art, the importance and the future of the collection must provoked logical questions about continuity and conservation. The Marés model, enjoying honors and his own museum and bequeathing his collection to the City Council, and the good relations of Pérez-Rosales with the Provincial Government played a determinant role in the decision to bequeath his collection to the provincial corporation in 1968. It was decided to locate the collection at the section of the Maricel who had been the residence of Charles Deering, at the old Hospital of Sant Joan, this became a second model for Pérez Rosales as an aesthetic model, if well away from the spirit of Noucentisme of Miquel Utrillo.

Jesús Pérez-Rosales died in Barcelona in 1989.One of the many obituaries portrayed him in a very precise manner, great doctor, very good collector… philanthropist covering many artistic disciplines and a paradigm of romantic and multifaceted personality.”

Origins and content of Pérez-Rosales Collection
The most popular providers of Pérez-Rosales were two antiquarians: Josep Bardolet i Soler (1891-1985) and Baldomero Falgueras and Carreras (1915-2006). The 3.603 registered works of the Pérez-Rosales collection cover a wide range with a large presence of painting, sculpture, drawing and furniture, pre-Columbian archeology, Oriental art, musical instruments, textiles, liturgical objects, folk crafts and all kinds of objects of applied art.

Ancient Art is the most important part of the Pérez-Rosales Collection, and within this section we must stress the importance of Romanesque and Gothic, mainly sculpture and painting over tables and frescoes. Baroque works present a very interesting and valuable collection of sculptures and carvings, as well as painting, highlighting various works by Juan de Arellano floral.with floral motifs. There are interesting and varied pieces of furniture from the eighteenth and nineteenth belonging to the “Fernandino” and “Isabelino” styles, and also works by Fortuny, Vicente Lopez, Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz, José Roldán Martínez, Lluís Masriera or Tomàs Moragas.

Popular arts are represented by a set of excellent and abundant Catalan and Valencian ceramics, mainly from the fifteenth century in various formats: tiles, panels, objects and kitchen utensils, etc. An added value of this collection is that it is complementary to that contained in the Cau Ferrat Museum.

The collection of pre-Columbian art was received by Pérez-Rosales between 1975 and 1989 largely from Guatemala and comprises a total of 232 pieces and objects; its catalog (2001) is the only completed and published one of the entire donation. Another markedly different section is the set of oriental art objects from the Philippines, China and Japan made up of weapons, mostly Filipino, Japanese and Chinese paintings and prints and polychrome and enameled Hong Kong ceramics.

Modern Art is outstanding due to the variety of works in painting and sculpture. Segundo Matilla, Darius Vilàs or Gustavo de Maeztu are some of the most prominent authors in the field of painting. The collection is rich in modern sculpture, with authors from Ramon Amadeu and Agapit Vallmitjana to sculptors from “Modernisme” and “Noucentisme” as Enric Clarasó Henry J. Llimona (one of the copies of Desconsol), Pau Gargallo, Josep Clarà, and Joan. Rebull and J. Cañas, among others.

The paintings of Josep M. Sert allegorical to the Great War 1914-1918 deserve a special mention. . They were painted specifically for the lobby of the residence of Charles Deering in 1915-1916 in six large canvases adapted to the monumental walls of the ground floor of the large Sant Miquel Manor. All six paintings traveled to the United States in 1921 when Deering moved his residence and art collection and from there travelled to various destinations. Pérez-Rosales bought them to replace them to their original position, so the Maricel Museum with the Pérez-Rosales collection was inaugurated with the paintings back to its original location.

As for prints, there are seventy-six pieces from the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those are works from Hans Baldung, Pasqual Pere Moles, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Blas Ametller, Mignard, F. Fonterasso, F. Le Moine and Fortuny. The books, most from medical subjecst, are twenty-two and date from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The personal documentation of Pérez-Rosales corresponds to his professional activity and honors and distinctions that he received.

The Pérez-Rosales Collection at the Maricel Museum
The idea of ​​creating a museum with the Pérez-Rosales art collection came himself, probably inspired by the example of Frederic Marés and a firm will to avoid the dispersion of the collection. He maintained conversations with the then President of the Provincial Council, the Marquis of Castell-Florite, who accepted it. The decision to accept the offer of Pérez-Rosales was taken in plenary session of 28 June 1968.

The agreement to purchase the building Maricel corresponding to the former residence of Deering was taken on January 29, 1969. The management of the Museum was carried out directly from the Barcelona Provincial Council.

The conditioning of the building was carried out by the Head of Conservation of Monuments of the provincial council, Camil Pallàs, who proceeded to transform the site in favor of the aesthetic criteria and taste of Pérez-Rosales, thinking in the placement of concrete works and visual sensationalism rather than in terms of the historical recovery of the building or using an educational and pedagogical approach. He kept the ground floor and the Gothic chapel of the old Hospital of Sant Joan, as well as several outbuildings; he transformed the first floor where there was the bedroom of the family Deering in showrooms. The sections of the second floor -library, office and lounge- were totally transformed and he used part of the space also covering the terraces to build the apartment where he lived during his long stay Sitges.

The collection, nobody discussed its artistic value, was installed on the premises of the former residence of Charles Deering at the Maricel Palace, sea sector, called from that moment Museo Maricel de Mar, without any other intervention than the donor and advisors. Pérez-Rosales personally directed the installation of the collection together with Eduard Ripoll in the initial moments and, above all, with Baldomero Falgueras. Vicente Maestre performed the inventory in 1971 once installed, distributing works according to subjects and spaces, floor by floor and room by room with a very concise description.

The museum included the three floors of the building; the first two were devoted to the art collection and the last was the “Sala de los Recuerdos” (“Hall of remembrance”. The first impression provoked was that of grandeur and aesthetic value, and a total mixture of styles and artistic languages ​​The museum was inaugurated with the name Museo Maricel de Mar- Donation Dr. Jesús Pérez Rosales on 30 June 1970, after a year and a half of renovation work.

With the chartering of the Sitges Heritage Association, in 1994, the unification of the management of museums in Sitges was achieved.The Pérez Rosales Collection was remodeled a few times to decongest crowded halls, but not carrying out a thorough reorganization.

In 1995, the “Sala de los Recuerdos” was emptied to install the the Sitges Art Collection (Colecció d’Art de la Vila de Sitges), by them named “Pinacoteca Municipal” and the Maritime Collection of Emerencià Roig.In 2010, the Maricel Museum was completely emptied to make way for the start of the refurbishment and restoration of the building.

The new museum organization of the Maricel Museum arranges for the integration of Pérez-Rosales and Sitges Art Collection according to a new circuit and an orientation, that allows to follow the collection according to the different stages of the historiography of art. The Pérez Rosales Collection is presented enhancing the most artistic aspects, with the prioritization of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, interposing interspersed different artistic languages. The sum of two collections promotes an artistic and historical interpretation, stressing the importance of the most valued pieces and the coherence of the discourse in favor of access and the social and educational role of the art museum.

The Maricel Museum, Sitges, Spain
The Maricel Museum exhibits a complete artistic route from the tenth century to realism and figuration during the first half of the twentieth century, passing through the art collections of Dr. Jesús Pérez Rosales and the Collection of Sitges, with works of great quality. The museum exhibition integrates multiple languages, techniques and artistic media in order to achieve a maximum consistency in the chronological sequence of the development of the arts.

The museum included works from the collection of Dr. Jesús Pérez-Rosales that never had been exhibited in public, acquisitions by the Sitges Heritage Association since 2012 (Ramon Casas, Miquel Utrillo, Arcadi Mas i Fondevila, Artur Carbonell i Augustí Ferrer Pino) ​​and donations from artist’s relatives (Pere Jou and Alfred Sisquella).The museum’s own collection was complemented with several works from loans and deposits from art collections of the Government of Catalonia, the Museum of the Provincial Government of Barcelona and the Montserrat Museum, primarily with artists from “Modernisme” and “Noucentisme” linked to Sitges as Ramon Casas, Joaquim Sunyer, Lola Anglada, Pere Jou and Alfred Sisquella, among others. It also emphasizes the incorporation of valuable pieces of furniture from the ancestral home of Can Falç, currently under restoration.

The visit to the Maricel Museum begins on the second floor of the building with sculptures and altarpieces belonging to the Romanesque and Gothic periods (works by Pere Serra, Master of All, Master of Maluenda, Master of Armisen, Master of Belmonte, Master of Son, Joan d’Angers, Master of Viella, the Virgin of Sant Miquel del Fai, Master of Los Balbases, Tomàs Giner and Pedro Berruguete, among others), supplemented with furniture. The Renaissance and Baroque are represented by collections of ceramics and furniture, as well as still lifes. On the first floor, in the former room of Deering, there’s an exquisite selection of paintings (Arellano) and furniture dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Next are works from the Neoclassic period (Vicente Lopez) and Romanticism (Esquivel, Joaquim Espalter, Marià Fortuny, Federico de Madrazo); Realism (Felip Masó, Rafael Monleón Arcadi Mas i Fondevila and young Rusiñol), the hall dedicated to the Luminist School (Joan Roig Soler, Arcadi Mas i Fondevila, Antoni Almirall, Joaquim Miro i Argenter, Joan Batlle i Amell, Joan Soler i Casanovas and Càndid Duran); “Modernisme” (Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas, Josep Llimona, Miquel Utrillo), with a hall dedicated to “Modernisme” in Sitges with the paintings that decorated “Cerveseria del Cau Ferrat” (Santiago Rusiñol, Arcadi Mas i Fondevila, Joaquim de Miro, Antoni Almirall, Càndid Duran) and “Noucentisme” (Joaquim Sunyer, Pere Jou, Lola Anglada, Enric Casanovas, Ismael Smith, Xavier Nogués, Josep M. Gol, Josep Clarà, Pau Gargallo, Jaume Otero, Josep Granyer and Apel·les Fenosa, among others).