The House of Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia (1907) Button for link to Chinese version of this page

The late eighteenth century through the first decade of the nineteenth century saw an explosion of business development in Europe. It was also the period of rapid industrial and manufactural transformation, and rising prosperity. From 1894 to 1913 the per capita economic output of Spain and most other European nations increased substantially, and wages climbed while prices remained relatively stable. This prosperous era was also a time of the Art Nouveau movement, an outgrowth of the Symbolist movement, the Arts and Crafts Movement, and various idealistic, intellectual, and artistic movements floating around in the 1870s and 1880s, including a strong Japanese influence on many European artists. The Art Nouveau artists advocated the style of nature and beauty in all the visual, literary, and performing arts, and this most certainly included the applied arts as well. The organic shapes and flowing lines of this style movement influenced architecture, jewelry, fabric patterns, and theater sets. The movement sought to beautify and unify the human environment. Great centers of this style movement were Brussels, Belgium; Vienna, Austria; Nancy, France; Paris, France; Lausanne, Switzerland; Glasgow, Scotland; Munich, Germany; and Barcelona, Spain.

Jaques Gruber's Stained Glass Window Panel
The Art Nouveau style stained glass at Musée de l’Ecole in Nancy, France. This window was made by Jacques Gruber (1870-1936).

Eugène Gallé's art nouveau dining room in Nancy, France
The Art Nouveau style furniture in the dining room at Musée de l’Ecole in Nancy, France. This complete ensemble was carved around 1900 by Eugène Gallé, and is still intact.

Cup presented to Leo Simon
The Art Nouveau style glass cup at Musée de l’Ecole in Nancy, France. This cup was made by Emile Gallé (1846-1904) as gift for Léon Simon of the Nancy Horticultural Society. It is a double glass layer cup with inclusions, inlay, and engravings.

Wedding vase with flowers
The Art Nouveau style vase at Fine Arts museum in Nancy, France. The vase is called “bouquet of daisies,” and it was made for the wedding of Antonin Daum in 1897. On the other side of the vase are flying insects and a rising sun motif. It is of blown glass that has been etched and painted with enamel and decorated with gold. It is displayed in the DAUM collection at the Fine Arts Museum of Nancy.

In Catalonia (Spain), the Art Nouveau movement took the name of “Modernisme” and attracted many wealthy people to ask for unique remodeling in their houses or the construction of homes, factories, parks, and public buildings in the new style. Barcelona has many UNESCO World Heritage sites marking the best works of modernista architects and their allied craftsmen and artisans, and especially highlighting the work of Lluîs Domènech i Montaner (1850-1923) and Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). The Casa Batlló in Barcelona, Spain is one of the great masterpieces of this modernisme style. The house was originally built in 1877, but sold to Josep Batlló in 1900. The new owner was a well known textile manufacture in Barcelona. He commissioned the architect Antoni Gaudi to remodel his house. The crews in the constructing team included the architect Josep Maria Jujol, the Badia brothers (who worked in wrought iron), Pujol & Baucis (who handled the tiling), Ribo (in charge of ceramics), Josep Pelegri (stained glass), and Casa & Bardes (in joinery).

Modernisme masterpiece at the Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul
This is part of the Art Nouveau style campus of the Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul in Barcelona, Spain, which was designed by the architect Lluîs Domènech i Montaner.

Some tiles in Park Guell
Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain which was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí.

Iron gate made to look like palm fronds in Park Guell
The Art Nouveau style of wrought iron work at park Guell in Barcelona, Spain.

The design of both exterior and interior of this building is astonishing, impressing viewers with the talent of Gaudi. The building itself no longer follows the rule of square corners and straight lines; instead, it is mixed with bright colors, abstract patterns, and curved lines. The genius of the place is the impression of Gaudi’s great imagination for using the elements of nature and the legend of Saint George and the Dragon, thus making the architecture into a magical world. The theme of Casa Batlló seems to relate to the legend of St. George and the dragon. The entire house illustrates and tells this story. The roof crest is the (spinal) back of the dragon with scales on its body, and a hole in it represents the wounded spot. Standing beside the wounded dragon are the chimneys representing the steep mountains one after another, and the cross represents the spear. Looking up toward these elements on the roof, viewers on the street notice the facade of this house, which has the skull-shaped balcony design, and the columns around the window and door of the lower floors appear as leg bones. The skulls and bones are symbols of the victims who were killed by the dragon. Therefore Casa Batlló is also entitled “the House of Bones”.

The roof shaped like a dragon's back at Casa Batllo
Back of the dragon as the roof at Casa Batlló.

́Chimneys and cross spire at Casa Batllo
The chimneys representing the steep mountains and the cross represents the spear on top of Casa Batlló.

The bones of Casa Batllo
The facade of Casa Batlló.

Saint George and the Dragon as architectural details
St. George and the dragon also appear next door to Casa Batlló.

Entering indoor is also a moment of breathtaking surprise and delight. The edge of the staircase has the arrangement likes the spinal cord of the dragon leading to the main living room (noble room). This is a room creating an impression of being in the ocean, with a swirling white ceiling and a blooming flower-like ceiling lamp providing lighting. French windows have the design of waves in the lines framing views facing the main street, studded with light blue and yellow circular stained glass. The doorframe also has a unique curved and rounded style. A mushroom shaped entry to a fireplace nook with two seats also adds to the feeling one is in a fantastic dream. The house has an atrium where sunlight comes in from the rooftop and increases the brightness inside the house. Around the atrium walls the blue and white diamond shaped tiles create a cool and watery impression. Stepping into the loft one enters a hallways of parabolic arches forming a white tunnel. Overall, the visual effect really reaches to the maximum heights of imagination.
Gaudi's vases in Casa Batllo
Vases in Casa Batlló.

Ceiling light in Casa Batllo
A swirling white ceiling and a blooming flower-like ceiling lamp.

Stained glass windows in Casa Batllo
Stained glass in the main living room.

Stove area with entry shaped as a mushroom at Casa Batllo
A mushroom shaped entry to the fireplace sitting nook.

Casa Batllo windows and main entry door
Window and door on the ground floor of Casa Batlló.

Shaft for ventilation and light at Casa Batllo
Atrium (light well)

Casa Batllo Loft
Parabolic arches up in the Casa Batlló loft.

In 1906, Casa Batlló earned the title of best building, a great reward in Barcelona, with its many extraordinary homes. Since 2002, a foundation has opened parts of the lower floors, the loft and the rooftop to the public for visits. In 2005, it was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage site. Ticket prices are quite expensive, but for anyone who loves Art Nouveau architecture, this home can’t be missed.



Links related to Art Nouveau, Modernisme, and Casa Batlló:

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