Day 49 of Colourisation Project – June 25
Born on this day, June 25 in 1852, Antoni Gaudí is perhaps the most famous architect of modern times. Born in Reus, he was by far the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. His works are defiantly original reflecting an organic and distinctive style. Gaudi’s commitment to his Catholic faith earned him the nickname, “God’s Architect.”
Gaudí belonged to the Modernist movement which by the late 19th and early 20th centuries was reaching its peak. Although subject to the prevailing influences of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí’s style was intensely human, full of imagery drawn from nature and religion. His work was meticulous and integrated the crafts of ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork and carpentry.
Most of Gaudí’s works are located in Barcelona and his legacy needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. True to his non-conformist way, Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works. Instead he would create three-dimensional scale models, moulding the details as he conceived them. Some of his main works are described below.
In 1883, Gaudí landed what was to become his most important commission – designing the Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia better known as La Sagrada Familia. He began work on it soon after graduating, and dedicated the last 16 years of his life entirely to the project. This unfinished church has become a must on every tourist’s list of things to do in Spain. It is now Barcelona’s most visited attraction.
His first major work was built between 1883 and 1888. Casa Vicens, a marvel of Moorish-influences, it was a private house designed for the industrialist Vicens.
The sumptuous palace, Palau Guell was built between 1886-89 and was a family residence for the Guells, on the Nou de la Rambla. The entrance bears the Catalan coat of arms and austere white stonework is offset by surreal chimneys of blazing colours. A central spire is topped off by a bat-winged monster.
Another Guell project was Park Guell. Built between 1900 and 1914, Gaudí’s work was again standout for its famous pavilions and undulating broken tile mosaics. This Park has also become one of Barcelona’s must-see destinations.
Passeig de Gracia is the showcase street of Modernism in Barcelona, where Gaudí’s unique style gives expression to two outstanding buildings, the Casa Batllo and the Casa Mila, built between 1906 and 1910. Sinuous curves, elaborate metalwork and spiraling mosaic-tiled chimneys on one and dragon-crest roof and skeletal facade on the other attracts fans of fantasy the world over. Casa Batllo was built in 1877 and remodeled by Gaudí between 1904 to 1906 for the aristocrat, Josep Batllo.
After 1910, Gaudí who was a devout Catholic, gave up all secular commissions and chose to focus on La Sagrada Familia, cloistering himself onsite for the next 16 years and living in its workshop.
Gaudí died tragically after getting hit by a trolley car in Barcelona in 1926, at the age of 74. Whilst La Sagrada Familia remained unfinished at his death—his extraordinary architectural structure has a final completion date of 2026, to mark the 100th anniversary of his passing.
Fittingly his body was interred in the crypt of La Sagrada Familia. Half of Barcelona dressed in black to honour his death.
“Who knows if we have given this diploma to a nut or to a genius? Time will tell.” Elies Rogent – 1878 Director of Escola Tecnica Superior d’Arquitectura
NOTE: Today’s photo presented its challenges as the original was in very poor condition, speckled with a lot of detail missing. However after I had completed my colourisation, I discovered through that last bit of extra research that one does, that Gaudí was actually blonde and blue eyed with a ruddy complexion! Back to the drawing board. I had assumed that he would have the swarthiness and colourings typical of the southern European. But I was wrong, I had to redo his hair and beard! One should never assume…a lesson I keep failing to grasp!