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Duran I Sanpere, Agustí

    Image Credit: Real Academia de la historia

    Full Name: Duran I Sanpere, Agustí

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1887

    Date Died: 1975

    Place Born: Cervera, Asturias, Principado de Asturias, Spain

    Place Died: Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

    Home Country/ies: Spain

    Career(s): art historians

    Institution(s): Museu d'Història de Barcelona


    Art historian, archivist and archaeologist. In Barcelona, ​​he studied Law and Letters, and in Madrid, he received his doctorate in Law. In 1914, he became an archivist at the Cervera Municipal Archive. In 1917, he was appointed municipal archivist of the city of Barcelona. With his efforts as director, the History Archive of the City of Barcelona was opened in 1921. ​​This organization would later (in 1943) gather various groups related to the history of the city under the name of the Municipal Institute of History of Barcelona: the Museum of History of the City, along with the Excavation Service and the Spanish People’s Museum (among others). In addition to his work as an archivist and historian, he was a humanist and in favor of the spread of cultural policies (Eulàlia Duran). In 1929, he organized a pavilion which was the first reckoning of the future Museu d’Història de Barcelona (MUHBA) (History Museum of Barcelona).

    To Duran i Sanpere, the archive itself was both a place for conservation and a living center with a connection to the public. The archive center planned other activities such as the Excavation Service in 1912. Additionally, Duran i Sanpere founded the Montjuïc Ethnographic Museum. He was drawn to local archeology, and took part in various excavations. He worked as municipal commissioner of Excavations from 1943 to 1957 as part of the Municipal Institute of History. Moreover, he spent years organizing the Barcelona Municipal Institute of History. During the Spanish Civil War, Barcelona became the operating center for the recovery of historical archives located in the city and throughout Catalonia. This was largely thanks to Duran i Sanpere, who knew that archives were especially at risk for being captured or destroyed during such conflict. In 1936, the Catalan Government appointed him as Director of the Archival Section of the Historical, Artistic and Scientific Heritage Department; he was responsible for recovering the archives and keeping them safe. Additionally, Duran i Sanpere directed publication of the first volume of Història de Barcelona De la Prehistòria al segle XVI. There was no sequel, unfortunately, since he died the same year it was published: 1975. Still, Duran i Sanpere’s representative work is the three volumes of Barcelona and its history that were released, published by Curial between 1972 and 1975. These volumes are notable for the presence of short histories, singular events, and descriptions of monuments. These descriptions are all rigorously documented and “embrace many political, social and artistic aspects” (Eulàlia Duran). Duran i Sanpere’s work on Catalan Gothic in the  14-volume History of Spanish Painting, (1930-1966) is considered some of his most important writing.

    Duran i Sanpere dedicated himself to the history and art history of Barcelona and Medieval and Gothic Spanish art (La Casa de la Ciudad de Barcelona, Per a la història de l’art a Barcelona; glosses a documents dispersos). Duran is remembered as a historian of the city of Barcelona. He also directed the rescue of Catalan archives on behalf of the Generalitat. He tended to approach writing about the city and its surroundings in a poetic way (Eulàlia Duran). His historiographical approach used archival, archaeological and artistic information weaving it into a city as a living entity. Duran i Sanpere helped promote a revitalization of the medieval past, one that inspired more interest in that history. Interest was especially clustered around the Gothic period, as in 1950, Duran i Sanpere published his first guide: El Barrio Gótico y su historia. Ultimately, though, his contributions to the city of Barcelona are what infuse his work and legacy. His home is now a museum, the Casa Duran i Sanpere de Cervera.

    Selected Bibliography

    • La Casa de la Ciudad de Barcelona. Barcelona, Librería Francisco Puig, 1927;
    • Llibre de les Solemnitats de Barcelona. Barcelona, Institució Patxot, 1930;
    • Els retaules de pedra. Barcelona, Editorial Alpha, 1932-1934;
    • Los retablos de piedra. Barcelona, Editorial Alpha, 1932-1934;
    • La peinture catalane à la fin du moyen âge; conférences faites à la Sorbonne en 1931. Paris, E. Leroux, 1933;
    • La Casa de la ciudad, historia de su construcción guía para su visita. Barcelona, Ediciones Aymá, 1943;
    • La fiesta del Corpus. Barcelona, Ediciones Aymá, 1943;
    • El Gremio de los maestros zapateros. Barcelona, Ediciones Aymá, 1944;
    • El barrio gótico de Barcelona. Barcelona, Aymá, 1952;
    • La catedral de Barcelona. Barcelona, Aymá, 1952;
    • Centenario de la Librería Bastinos, 1852-1952. Barcelona, J. Bosch, 1952;
    • Ars Hispaniae: historia universal del arte hispánico. 8, Escultura gótica. Madrid, Editorial Plus-Ultra, 1956;
    • Escultura gótica. Madrid, Editorial Plus-Ultra, 1956;
    • Per a la història de l’art a Barcelona; glosses a documents dispersos. Barcelona, Institut d’Estudis Catalans, 1960;
    • Tornant-hi a pensar: evocacions de moments viscuts. Barcelona, Editorial Selecta, 1961;
    • Felip V i la ciutat de Cervera. Barcelona, Rafael Dalmau, 1963;
    • Els Cavallers de Sant Jordi. Ciutat de Barcelona, [publisher not identified], 1964;
    • Collsacabra. Barcelona, Selecta, 1964;
    • Spanien; vom 15. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert. München, G.D.W. Callwey, 1971;
    • Grabados populares españoles. Barcelona, Gustavo Gili, 1971;
    • Barcelona i la seva història. Barcelona, Curial, 1972;
    • Llibre de Cervera. Tàrrega, F. Camps Calmet, 1972;
    • Pels camins de la història [per] A. Duran i Sanpere. Barcelona, Fundació Salvador Vives Casajuana, 1973;
    • Barcelona i la seva història 1, La Formació d’una gran ciutat. Barcelona, Curial, 1973;
    • Història de Barcelona. Barcelona, Editorial Aedos, 1975;
    • Llibre de Cervera. Barcelona, Curial, 1977;
    • Jacint Verdaguer: “Príncep dels poetes catalans”. Barcelona, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Delegació de Cultura, 1977;
    • Els Gremis a la Barcelona medieval. Barcelona, Ajuntament de Barcelona, Delegació de Cultura, 1978;
    • La Passió de Cervera: misteri del segle XVI. Barcelona, Curial Edicions Catalanes, 1984;
    • La Passió de Cervera: misteri del segle XVI. Barcelona, Curial, 1984.


    • Eulàlia Duran. Agustí Duran i Sanpere (1887-1975): història urbana. Barcelona Quaderns d’història, Núm. 20, 2014, p. 247;
    • Ripoll i Perelló, E. «Prof. Agustí Duran I Sanpere (1887-1975). Empúries: Revista De món clàssic I Antiguitat Tardana, Núm. 41, 2008;
    • M. Teresa Salat i Noguera. Agustí Duran I Sanpere. Historiador a Cervera. Miscel·lània Cerverina, Núm. 14, 2009;
    • Montse Graells i Vilardosa. Agustí Duran i Sanpere i el Museu Comarcal. Miscel·lània Cerverina, 2001;
    • Dolors Montagut i Balcells. Agustí Duran i Sanpere i l’Arxiu Històric de Cervera. Miscel·lània cerverina, Núm. 14, 2001;
    • Àgata Alegre Batlle. Agustí Duran i Sanpere i la Biblioteca Popular de Cervera. Miscel·lània Cerverina, 2001;
    • Marcel Dubliat. Art barcelonais: Duran i Sanpere (Agustí), Per a la histórica de l’art a Barcelona, Barcelone, 1960. Annales du Midi, Volume 73, Issue 54, 1961;
    • Jaume Sobreques, Coll Alertorn i Altres. Història de Barcelona De la Prehistòria al segle XVI. Barcelona, Aedos, 1975.


    Archives Casa Museu Duran Sanpere

    Contributors: Lee Sorensen and Sophia Cetina


    Lee Sorensen and Sophia Cetina. "Duran I Sanpere, Agustí." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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