Casa Lleó Morera
|Casa Lleó Morera|
|Casa Lleó Morera|
|Address||Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona, 35|
|Construction started||c. 1902|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Lluís Domènech i Montaner|
Casa Lleó Morera is one of Barcelona’s premier Modernisme buildings. A work of Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the structure sits at number 35 on Barcelona’s Passeig de Gracia. The building was constructed in 1902, commissioned by Francesca Morera as a restoration of the Casa Rocamora, dating from 1864. Upon her death in 1904, her son Albert Lleó i Morera oversaw the completion of the project, and gave the building its name. The work was completed on March 10, 1905.
Casa Lleó i Morera is among the three buildings constructed by the modernist architects – Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch, Domènech i Montaner – that make up the area known as the Block of Discord (the others are known as Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller). Casa Lleó i Morera is the only one to win the annual award for artistic buildings given by the Barcelona City Council (bestowed in 1906).
Artists and craftsmen
It’s worth highlighting the arduous work carried out by the artists and craftsmen who, under the direction of architect Montaner and decorator Gaspar Homar, helped to create the grand richness of the building’s interior. Among the 40+ artists to participate in the work, the contributions of the following craftsmen particularly stand out:
- Eusebi Arnau i Mascort (1863-1933), one of Modernisme’s most well-known sculptors. He created the sculptures on the building’s façade, today lost to a reconstruction carried out in 1943, which represented feminine figures holding an urn. He also sculpted the reliefs in the lobby on the first floor, which represent the folk song "The nurse of the baby-king.”
- Lluís Bru i Salelles (1868-1952) was the modernist mosaicist and decorator to create the ceramic tiling and mosaics that adorn the staircase and first floor.
- Mario Maragliano (1864-1944) was an Italian mosaicist who lived in Barcelona. Together with Lluís Bru, he worked on the mosaics that adorn the building’s floors.
- Antoni Rigalt i Blanch (1861-1914) was a modernist painter, draftsman, and glazier. He created the building’s stained-glass windows, including the monumental one fitted on the back-facing part of the house, which portrays the tree of life.
- Antoni Serra i Fiter (1869-1939) was a painter, and Modernisme’s most renowned ceramist. Among his best-loved works are the ceramic steps and mosaics in the building’s dining room, which portray pastoral landscapes.
- Gaspar Homar (1870-1953) was a decorator and cabinetmaker. He designed the set of furnishings decorated with stained glass, marquetry, and wooden engravings. The home’s original furnishings are now housed at the Catalan National Museum of Art.
- Josep Pey (1875-1956) was a decorator, draftsman, and painter. He worked on the marquetry that adorns the furniture designed by Gaspar Homar, and collaborated on the engravings that are etched upon them.
- Alfons Juyol (1860-1917) specialized in sculpture’s application in architecture. He took part in the design of the sculptures found on the building’s façade and interior, as well as the décor of the tempietto that crowns the house.
- Joan Carreras ( 1860 - ?) was a sculptor, woodworker, and great collaborator of Gaspar Homar. He helped work on the engraving of the Adoration of the Magi, located over the mantelpiece in the main salon.
Now considered one of the finest examples of Modernisme architecture, on the basis of the inclusive participation of the most accomplished craftsmen of its time, the building fell victim to the intense hatred directed towards this style during the Noucentisme movement. In 1943, the architect Raimon Duran i Reynals signed onto a renovation of the building’s first floor, planned by Madrid architect Francisco Ferrer Bartolomé, in order to open a Loewe shop. This renovation took with it the modernist stained-glass windows and led to the definitive loss of the sculptures that adorned the first floor, which were destroyed with pick axes on the very sidewalk of their original site. The heads of the sculpted figures were saved by the building’s superintendent, who later sold them to Salvador Dalí, who placed them on the wall in the patio of his Figueres Theatre and Museum.
Casa Lleó i Morera remained in the hands of the family until 1943, when it was sold to the Sociedad Mercantil Bilbao, an insurance company which, in turn, sold it to the Mutualidad General de Previsión Social de la Abogacía de Madrid in 1983. It was later transferred to Grupo Planeta.
The fact that the family looked after the property through three generations meant good news for the upkeep of the most distinctive decorative features of the building’s interior: the delicate ornamental features inspired by winding lines and nature, and realized through the use of diverse mediums and materials, thanks to the participation of multiple master craftsmen.
In the mid 1980s, the architect Oscar Turquets undertook the building’s restoration, and reinstated the pinnacle and tempietto of the cornice, which had suffered great damages as it withstood the showers of gunfire that marked the Spanish Civil War. The affectation of the building’s ground level floor and its stunning columns was partially recovered. In 1992, a new restoration helped bring back to life the various architectonic elements of the building’s original façade.
In 2006, Núñez i Navarro acquired Casa Lleó i Morera and soon embarked on its comprehensive architectural renovation and restoration.