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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Urban Sketching Barcelona. Day 9: Montjuic & National Art Museum

Arenas de Barcelona - former bullfighting ring, now shopping mall

October 13, 2016

Turning in the opposite direction from the way I had been walking every other day, that is, towards the old part of town or exploring the Eixample, this time I headed for Montjuic, the mountain, and the Art Museum, stopping to sketch street scenes along the way. My destination was the Museo Nacional D'Art De Catalunya. Built for the International Exposition of 1929 (the World's Fair) it was designed by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch (one of the masters of Modernisme) in neo-baroque style as the Spanish Pavilion. It now houses the world's largest collection of Romanesque frescoes that were saved from being destroyed by the Spanish Civil War. I was fascinated with the way they are displayed, in what they call "ambits" - small separate alcoves, to recreate the spaces they were originally intended for. It also houses the most important collection of Catalan art from the 19th and early 20th centuries, including neoclassicism, realism, and modernism (Catalan Art Nouveau) and one of my favorite Picasso paintings "Woman in Hat and  Fur Collar".

It was cloudy when I left my apartment, so I grabbed my umbrella and rain gear and indeed clouds did seem to be building as I approached the base of Montjuic. It appeared that it was going to be quite a climb to get to the museum and I was delighted to discover a series of escalators, almost hidden next to the monumental stairs that led ever higher. The elevators don't go all the way to the museum, but the final flights are manageable and soon I found myself looking over a panoramic view of the city of Barcelona, heightened by the ever darkening sky.

I enjoyed a bite to eat in the cafe (bocadillo with jamon - a ham sandwich never tasted so good!) located within a gorgeous entry hall, looked over the map and decided where to start. Obviously I could not see everything in one day so I focused on the things I was most interested in seeing and set out. I took some photographs, did no sketching, and by afternoon I could see that it was beginning to storm outside. The views were even more spectacular from the terrace with the wet pavement and I just took my time inside, hoping the rain would subside by the time I was ready to go. It did not and I asked at the front desk about taxis (none really) and buses and was given directions to find one.

My sense of direction being what it is, and especially along curving mountain roads (I did not go down the same way I had come up - a bad decision I now see) I became quite lost, but eventually, with the help of locals and my trusty map, made my way home, through pouring rain by now! I ducked into a fabulous little bar called Idò DO balear, not far from my apartment. By now my shoes and socks were quite wet and I thought perhaps I could wait it out, and if not, at least get something to eat and a glass of wine! I had the most delicious tapas - smoked salmon with tomato jam on a crispy bread,  accompanied by a glass of crisp white Spanish wine and took my time, sketching the rows of meats along the wall opposite. When it was clear the rain was not stopping I got my things together and walked the last few blocks that took me home where I got into some dry things, relaxed and finally went to bed, tired, but relieved at making it back and content with all that I had seen and done that day. (click on the images to view full frame)


Arena de Barcelona - former bullring, now shopping mall with viewing terrace



Plaça Espanya


Foutain at Monjuic


Museo Nacional d'Art de Catalunya


Panoramic view from the Museum 


Entry Hall with elevators to the upper level


Ceiling in the Museum


Gaudí-designed furniture for Casa Batlló


Examples of Gaudí's "trencadis" tile work


Pablo Picasso: Woman in Hat and Fur Collar


"Four-leafed glass door" Cloisonne stained glass by Frederic Vidal


Stained glass triptych: "The Blue Pool",
Joaqim Mir and Rigalt, Granelli i Cia 


Medieval Romanesque Frescoes in "Ambits"


Back of Fresco "Ambits" - works of art in themselves!


Medieval Door 

Medieval frescoes


Terrace of the Museum in the rain


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