The Museo Nacional d'Art de Catalunya comprises an exceptional display of Catalan art, which runs parallel to the major European movements, through an almost uninterrupted itinerary of works dating from the Romanesque to the mid-19th century.
After a long refurbishing process at the Palau Nacional directed by architects Gae Aulenti, Enric Steegmann, Josep Benedito and their teams, the museum has been able since December 2004 to exhibit all its collections on the same premises.
In addition to works from the Romanesque and Gothic periods, together with the Cambó Bequest, which were already on display at the Palau Nacional, and the Renaissance and Baroque collections, further collections have been added. These include art of the 19th and 20th centuries, the photography collection, the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints, the Numismatic Cabinet of Catalonia, and also the Art History Library. Furthermore, the museum has recently incorporated the Thyssen Collection, which until recently was exhibited at the Pedralbes monastery, as well as a selection of Catalan paintings from the Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza collection.
Visitors to the museum are afforded the opportunity to enjoy a clarifying view of the history of European art in general and of the distinguishing character of the different artistic strands in the Catalan cultural context.
Standing alongside great masters like Fra Angelico, Titian, Ribera and Zurbarán are the seminal works by Catalan painters, such as Jaume Huguet, Lluís Dalmau, Antoni Viladomat, Mariano Fortuny, Ramon Casas and Julio González, represented in the different collections.
THE COLLECTION OF ROMANESQUE ART
This collection is undoubtedly of the museum’s most emblematic, above all by virtue of its series of exceptional groups of mural painting. The collection comprises Catalan artworks from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, comparable with works from the rest of Spain and abroad. Besides mural painting, mention should be made of the examples of panel painting and wood carving, many of which are paradigmatic pieces in their respective media, as well as the remarkable holdings of stone sculpture and metalwork.
THE COLLECTION OF GOTHIC ART
This collection displays the artistic output of both Catalonia and the territories which had cultural links to Catalonia during the late Middle Ages (from the late 13th until the 15th centuries).
The Gothic period is one of the most brilliant in the entire history of Catalan art, and coincided with the country’s maximum territorial expansion and the consolidation of its central position in the political, economic and cultural spheres in Mediterranean Europe of the time.
The Catalan nucleus of the collection allows visitors to observe the emergence, development and culmination of the Gothic style, along with the reinterpretation in the Crown of Aragon of its different manifestations. The linear of Franco-Gothic, the Italianate Gothic, the 'courtly' of International Gothic and the different European strands of the period are evident, while unique Catalan qualities, which came to the forefront from the courtly style onwards, are clearly appreciable. This is evident in the work of major Catalan artists of international repute such as Bernat Matorell and Jaume Huguet, and also Bartolomé Bermejo, who was for a period active in Catalonia.
THE RENAISSANCE AND BAROQUE ART COLLECTION: painting and sculpture from the 16th to the 18th centuries
The Renaissance and Baroque collections comprise 16 sections devoted to art from Catalonia and other parts of Europe from the beginning of the reign of the Emperor Charles V to the Napoleonic era.
The collection of painting, sculpture and decorative arts from the 16th to the 18th centuries kept in the MNAC was built up in Catalan civil society over the 19th century and has now reached the Museum through permanent loans, bequests, donations and acquisitions. Thanks to private patronage, and despite the lack of a royal collection to form a basis, the MNAC is able to offer an extensive discourse of one of the periods of greatest splendour in the history of art.
Among the artists included in this collection are names such as Francesco del Cossa, Berruguete, Ayne Bru, Titian, Tintoretto, Bassano, Sebastiano del Piombo, El Greco, Morales, Cranach, Carracci, Rubens, Ribera, Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Zurbarán, Massimo Stanzione, Vaccaro, Viladomat, Tiepolo, Goya, Fragonard, and many others.
THE CAMBO BEQUEST
The Cambó Bequest has its own space on the ground floor between the sections devoted to the Spanish Renaissance and to Carracci's murals.
Francesc Cambó, who was born in Verges in 1876 and died in Buenos Aires in 1947, put together a collection of Renaissance and Baroque painting with its own identity, covering European painting from the 14th to the beginning of the 19th centuries. Through his persistent effort, he compiled a fine collection of paintings from the Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Flemish, French and German schools.
THE THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA COLLECTION
The Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, on permanent loan to the MNAC from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Foundation, brings together paintings and sculptures which allow the visitor to form a global view of European art from the 13th to the 18th centuries. The works were amassed by the Thyssen-Bornemisza family through two generations, and before they were purchased by the Spanish State constituted one of the world's most important private collections. While undoubtedly reflecting the tastes of the Thyssen-Bornemisza family, this collection also illustrates the links between the strands of medieval art in Catalonia and Italy with another important influence on Catalan art: northern painting.
THE COLLECTION OF MODERN ART
The collection of modern art is an important assemblage of works structured chronologically around the great cycles of the art of that period in Catalonia. It offers a journey through Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Realism, Modernisme, Noucentisme, 'the generation of 1917' and the avant-garde, and is designed to balance the interests of the general public with the needs of the connoisseur and scholar of modern art.
However, the period most fully represented is the second half of the 19th century and the first 30 years of the 20th century. In this respect, it is notable that the works from the movements making up the fundamental core of the collections - Modernisme, including a notable collection of decorative art, and Noucentisme - entered the Museum at almost the same time as they were in vogue.
This is a reminder of the fact that, despite the wealth of its historical collections, the museum was formed with a particular mission to conserve contemporary art.
THE CARMEN THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA COLLECTION
This gallery contains about 20 paintings from the collection of Catalan art belonging to Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, and consisting of more than 350 works in total. In view of the wealth and heterogeneity of this collection, the works ceded to the MNAC give priority to diversity rather than to unity of discourses, with the object of giving an idea, even though it may have the conciseness of a telegram, of the plurality of this collection.
THE COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHY
The MNAC's Department of Photography was created by the Museum Trustees on 15 April 1996. With the opening of this Department, a great step forward was taken in the consolidation and acknowledgement of photography as an artistic discipline in Catalonia and, at the same time, in the promotion of Catalan photographers around the world.
The aim of the Department of Photography is to build up a collection representative of the history of photography, paying special attention to Catalan creative photography. The collection focuses on both historical photography and the more experimental, avant-garde approaches.
The collection of this Department includes about 1,200 photographs embracing periods from pictorialism and the avant-garde (New Vision, New Objectivity, etc.) to Neo-Realism and the contemporary period. Basically, it comprises gifts (Joaquim Pla Janini, Emili Bosch, Joan Fontcuberta, Carles Fontserè, Josep Lladó, Oriol Maspons, Kim Manresa and Toni Catany) and permanent loans (Josep Masana, Otho Lloyd, Emili Godes and Antoni Arisa). It was recently enlarged by the collection of photographs from the Generalitat de Catalunya's Fons d'Art. This comprises more than 400 works by some fifty photographers, among them Antoni Campañá, Josep M. Casals Ariet, Pere Català i Pic, Francesc Català-Roca, Toni Catany, Colita, Joan Colom, Ramon David, Manuel Esclusa, David Escudero, Jordi Esteva, Pere Formiguera, Humberto Rivas, Jorge Ribalta, and others.
THE COLLECTION OF THE CABINET OF DRAWINGS AND PRINTS
The artistic material supplying the collections of the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints comprises 36,656 drawings, approximately 50,000 prints and some 10,000 posters. Also included are a valuable collection of ex-libris works and a collection of copper plates and wood blocks.
Catalan art is heavily featured in the Department, which possesses a remarkable selection of works by some of the region's most important artists. The collection allows the visitor to follow the principal artistic movements of the 19th century, among others Modernisme, which was particularly important in Catalonia and distinguished by the search for new directions in artistic expression. Poster art was common practice among many of the artists in this movement.
Finally, the Catalan presence in the Department's collections is completed with examples of both Noucentista and avant-garde work.
GHE COLLECTION OF THE NUMISMATIC CABINET OF CATALONIA
The Numismatic Cabinet of Catalonia conserves the most important collections of coins, medals and valuable paper in Catalonia, totalling over 129,000 examples.
The coin collection comprises almost 105,000 pieces, from the 6th century BC up to the present day, showing the most characteristic features of coinage production in each age. In this collection, the most important and emblematic series are those from Catalonia, with many extremely rare examples and unique pieces. Moreover, the collection incorporates important coin hoards found in several different places in Catalonia.
The medal collection comprises almost 7,800 pieces, from the first examples made in Italy in the 15th century up to the present day. Although there are pieces from different countries in Europe and America, Spanish medals make up the core of the collection, with a significant number of examples from the age of Modernisme.
The valuable paper collection is made up of banknotes, bonds and credit vouchers, and different types of credit documents such as shares, debentures or cheques. Of special historical interest are the banknotes issued by the Generalitat de Catalunya and Catalan town and city councils during the 1936-9 Civil War.
The Cabinet also possesses other material connected with coins and medals; for example, the collections of pellofes, monetary weights (used to check the weight of coins), 18th- and 19th-century weighing scales, dies for pellofes and medals, decorations and insignia.
Palau Nacional de Montjuïc
Standard: 12,00 EUR
Free admission: May 18, Saturdays after 3 pm and first Sundays of the month.
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