The Museu Picasso is located in Barcelona and has one of the biggest collections of artwork created by master artist Pablo Picasso. It was the only museum dedicated exclusively to Picasso’s work that was open when he was still alive.
The museum is in several townhouses or palaces. These have been there since the 15th century but have undergone many massive renovations since then. These buildings’ style is Catalan civic gothic. A common structure surrounds the courtyard with access to the main floor being through an open staircase. The museum is located at Carrer Montcada, which represents the most important gothic medieval architecture in Barcelona.
The Palau Aguilar is the original house and it dates from the thirteenth century. It originally belonged to noble families but was eventually sold to a merchant named Berenguer d’Aguilar. The property was refurbished by the generations that followed until the Barcelona City Council bought it in 1953. Extensive restoration had to be done since the building was in a state of disrepair.
The Palau del Baro de Castellet is a medieval Palace that had a lot of restoration done in the eighteenth century. This building changed inhabitants many times throughout the centuries, always housing aristocratic and bourgeois families.
The Palau Meca Montcada is another medieval Palace dating from the thirteenth century. The building was extremely important in the 14th century since the head of the City Council settled there with her politician husband and their son. The building was largely destroyed in a bombardment in 1714, being bought only a few years later and receiving a thorough renovation.
Casa Mauri is an 18th century building. It is set around a courtyard. Once it may have stood by itself as part of the towns that were in the outskirts of the Barcino colony. It may also have been part of the outbuildings of Meca Palace in the 13th century. There is little documentation available about the people that owned it between the 16th and the 18th century. In 1872, the building was joined to the house which neighbored it, the palau Finestres. The palau Finestres has original buildings from the 13th century. It is presently used in the museum to house contemporary exhibitions.
The museum itself happened, in no small part, due to Picasso’s collaboration. He gave his friend and secretary Jaume Sabarte several paintings and other works throughout the time they knew each other. Sabarte wanted to open the museum in Malaga but Picasso suggested Barcelona, a city close to his heart.
Throughout his lifetime, Picasso would return to Barcelona and stay for several years at a time. It was his personal wish that the museum dedicated to his work be built there.
The museum opened in 1963. It was called the Sabartes Collection, since Picasso publically opposed Franco’s regime and no museum could be named after him at the time. The collection continued to grow with many artists donating work, including Salvador Dali. When Sabarte died, Picasso donated a new collection to the museum in his honor.
Picasso and Barcelona
Picasso spent many years living in Barcelona. These were mostly formative years that deeply affected the way he interpreted the world and his approach to his art. He knew the importance of Barcelona and he referenced it often in his work. He was obviously influenced by Barcelona and kept it very close to his heart.
Picasso designed the menu for the Quatre Gats, a restaurant opened in 1897. In 1899, he shared a studio with Santiago Cardona. Despite his new place of residence, Pablo Picasso never cut ties with Barcelona and would often return. the Quatre Gats would become a nerve in the city which had become culturally progressive and a hub for artists at the time. Picasso’s participation in this circle opened him up to modernity.
He had many friends in Barcelona that kept him going back. He actively participated in the artistic and cultural aspects of life in this city. His presence and influence on the city is extended after his death with the first museum ever dedicated entirely to his work.