Josep Puig i Cadafalch is well known as one of the great personalities of Catalan Modernist architecture. However, any impartial approach to his figure quickly finds him an untiring and, above all, multifaceted worker, involved in varied activities that, without displacing his work as an architect and designer, leads us to assess his work in other areas, from politics to archaeology, through the history of art and especially of architecture. Within this plurality of initiatives, restoration also emerged as a concern maintained throughout his career that would be developed in parallel and accompany him intermittently. His interventions in this field will take place throughout the first three decades of the 20th century.
In a way, his dedication to the restoration of monuments can be understood as a meeting point, a synthesis of all his interests that shows the extent to which Puig’s dedication to all of them corresponds to a coherent approach on his part. Restoring ancient Catalan buildings has a civic and patriotic side for him, as it entails recovery of signs of national identity, and connects with his dedication to Catalanist politicians.
However, this task is carried out not with a romantic enthusiasm but with the scientific rigor that stems from his deep study of the works. Puig was the most knowledgeable expert of his time regarding ancient Catalan architecture, with a prestige as a historian of medieval architecture that far exceeded the local level. By virtue of this dual civic and historical interest, and sometimes with the support of certain Catalan political and cultural institutions—of recent creation at that time, such as the Institute of Catalan Studies or the Commonwealth itself—he had occasion to direct and guide the restoration of several monuments. Let us not forget that as Councillor of the Barcelona City Council, he promoted the creation of the Autonomous Museums Board, converted to the Barcelona Museums Board in 1907.
(Summary of the text by Rosa Alcoy and Pere Beseran: “Puig i Cadafalch and the restoration of monuments”. Amatller Institute of Hispanic Art, 2002)
INTERVENTIONS IN HISTORICAL MONUMENTS AND SITES:
Corbins (Segrià), Roman funeral monument.
Cuixà, Monastery of Sant Miquel de Cuixà.
Empúries, Greco-Roman site.
Favara (Zaragoza), sepulchre.
Girona, Arab baths.
Montserrat, abbey and Santa Cecília.
Sant Benet de Bages, monastery.
Sant Jaume de Vilanova, monastery.
Sant Joan de les Abadesses, monastery.
Sant Llorenç Savall, stained glass window.
San Martí Sarroca, monastery.
Sant Pere de Rodes, monastery.
Santa Maria de la Seu d’Urgell, Cathedral.
Tarragona, Cathedral and Arc de Barà (Triumphal Arch of Berá).
Terrassa, monumental ensemble of the churches of Sant Pere.
INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION DURING HIS LIFETIME:
Doctor Honoris Causa by Sorbonne University of Paris.
Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Barcelona.
Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Freiburg, Germany.
Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Toulouse-Languedoc, France.
Corresponding member of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres of Paris.
Creation of the Centre for Catalan Studies (Art and Culture) at Sorbonne University in Paris.