Casa Vicens acquires the corner cabinet made by Gaudí for the Vicens’ family home in Alella

  • The corner cabinet, acquired by Casa Vicens, appeared at the Lamas Bolaño auction house a few days ago for a starting price of €95,000
  • After its restoration, the intention is to exhibit it together with the fireplace that Gaudí designed for the same house, belonging to the Vicens family, in Alella

Gaudí’s first house has incorporated a corner cabinet, that Gaudí designed for the Vicens Giralt couple, into its collection. The cabinet was in the private hands of a descendant of the Vicens family, it has never been on display and is one of the first pieces of furniture designed by the architect.

The inclusion of this cabinet in the Casa Vicens collection will allow it to be exhibited and raise its profile as a leading destination to discover and learn about the beginnings of Gaudí, and enable its mission to pass on this UNESCO World Heritage Site to future generations in the best possible conditions.

Gaudí and Alella: two pieces of furniture for the Vicens family

During the 1880s and 1890s, the architect Antoni Gaudí spent long periods of time in the family home of Mr and Mrs Vicens on Carrer de Dalt, today known as Anselm Clavé, in the town of Alella. In this Maresme town, Gaudí also designed an altarpiece for the church of Sant Feliu, in the same year that the construction of Casa Vicens began.

Gaudí’s friendship with the Vicens family lasted many years, and from this friendship two pieces of furniture have survived – a fireplace and a corner cabinet – both designed for the Vicens’ house in Alella and Casa Vicens on Carrer de les Carolines in Barcelona.

The first piece of furniture is a corner fireplace made of wood and metal with an inscription of the initials “M.V”, of Manuel Vicens, on a metal plaque at the bottom. It stayed with the granddaughter of Vicens until after the Spanish Civil War, when she donated the fireplace to the “Amics de Gaudí” association, later becoming the property of the Junta Constructora de la Sagrada Família. Thanks to a transfer agreement, it has been on display at Casa Vicens since it opened to the public in 2017.

The second piece of furniture is a hanging corner cabinet in cedar wood with the initials “D.G”, of Dolors Giralt, in gold brass on the two doors, as a tribute to the owner of the house. On the outside of this cabinet, the floral motifs in gold brass and the web-footed birds in carved wood and openwork brass on the lower part that act as a base for the central column are particularly notable. Inside, the wardrobe is lined in velvet with two half-moon-shaped shelves that fit perfectly with the two half-moon shelves inserted in each door. Up until now, the cabinet has been owned by four generations of the Vicens family. Originally, it was in the hands of its owner, Mrs Dolors Giralt, Manel Vicens’ wife; later it passed to their daughter Joana Giralt, who adopted her mother’s surname after the death of her father in 1895, and who married Francesc Álvarez i Montaner. Josefa Álvarez Giralt, the daughter of the couple, was the third owner of the cabinet. The fourth owner was Francesc Borrell Álvarez (son of Josefa Álvarez and Salvador Borrell i Saunell) and, together with his wife Carmen Carrió Solà, the piece of furniture was present in various locations until it recently arrived at the Lamas Bolaño auction house. The new owner of the corner cabinet, Casa Vicens Gaudí, is now beginning a restoration phase, with the aim of exhibiting it in the house itself, allowing all visitors to this World Heritage Site to enjoy this furniture designed by the young Antoni Gaudí.

Recovery of heritage, restoration and a public exhibition

“Since Casa Vicens was purchased in 2014, our aim has been to bring together the two pieces of furniture that Gaudí designed for the family home in Alella and exhibit them together. We had to wait almost 10 years for it to be possible, but after its restoration, visitors will soon be able to see the two pieces of furniture together again, just as Gaudí imagined them,” says Emili Masferrer, director of Casa Vicens Gaudí.

It will still be a few months until we can see the cabinet on display for the first time though, when we can then enjoy the two pieces of furniture that Gaudí designed for the Vicens’ house in Alella.

Discover Casa Vicens, never-before-seen Gaudí

The first home by the great architect of Modernisme. Declared Unesco World Heritage.

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