Biographical synthesis

Ramon Manent

Josep Puig i Cadafalch, architect, politician and art historian, was born in Mataró, at Carrer el Carreró number 39, in the year 1867 to a family of tulle and lace manufacturers. He attended school at the Escola Pía de Santa Anna in Mataró and studied baccalaureate at the Institut de Segona Ensenyança in Tarragona. In addition to a passion for history, he showed great aptitude for physical sciences and mathematics, obtaining a doctorate in 1889. He enrolled in the Provincial School of Architecture of Barcelona in 1883 and completed his degree in 1891. Puig i Cadafalch was one of the most important figures of Modernism. As municipal architect of Mataró (1892-1896), he built the new sewer system, the municipal market El Rengle in Plaça Gran (1891-1893), the Plenary Hall of the City Council of Mataró (1893), the headquarters of La Beneficència (1894) and the Coll i Regàs house (1897). Once established in Barcelona, he decorated the Macià jewelry shop (1893) and directed the construction of the Casa Martí (Els Quatre Gats (1895). His residence in Argentona (1897) and the Casa Garí in El Cros (Argentona 1899) also date from this period. In Barcelona, he also built Casa Amatller (1900), Casa Macaya (1901), Casa Trinxet (1904) (demolished), the Casarramona factory (1911), and the Codorniu cavas in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. Puig i Cadafalch was a prominent city planner as well, a fact highlighted by the project for linking Via Laietana with the old centre of Barcelona and for the planning of Plaça de Catalunya in this same city. In addition, as an art historian he is the author, among others, of the work Romanesque Architecture in Catalonia (3 volumes, 1909-1913). He married Dolors Macià and Monserdà (1892) with whom he would have a daughter, Pilar. In 1892, he participated in the Assembly of the Catalanist Union, in Manresa, representing Mataró. He collaborated on La Renaixença and the weekly La Veu de Catalunya. He was co-founder of the Regionalist League (1901), and founder and president of the Institute of Catalan Studies (1907). That same year he participated in the expedition to the Boí Valley to study and preserve its Romanesque churches. He directed the archaeological excavations in Empúries (1908) promoted by the Institute of Catalan Studies. In the political arena, was councillor for the Regionalist League from the City Council of Barcelona (1901-1903), Member of Parliament for the Regionalist League (1907-1910), Provincial Deputy (1913-1924) and President of the Commonwealth of Catalonia (1917-1924). During the Civil War (1936-1939) he went into self-exile in France (1936-1942). Upon his return to Barcelona, the Franco regime prohibited him from working as an architect. He participated in the semi-clandestine reorganization of the Institute of Catalan Studies. He was awarded Doctor Honoris Causa by the universities of Sorbonne, Barcelona, Freiburg and Harvard. He died a widower in Barcelona on December 23, 1956, at the age of 89, being buried on Christmas Day in the Capuchin cemetery in his hometown.

Manel Cusachs i Corredor
Journalist and historian
Mataró 2012