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Puig i Cadafalch, Josep

    Full Name: Puig i Cadafalch, Josep

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 17 October 1867

    Date Died: 23 December 1957

    Place Born: Mataró, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

    Place Died: Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

    Home Country/ies: Spain

    Subject Area(s): architecture (object genre), Romanesque, sculpture (visual works), and Spanish (culture or style)

    Institution(s): Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Barcelona


    Catalonian architect, architectural historian of the Catalonian romanesque, archeologist, and politician. Puig i Cadafalch was the son of wealthy textile industrialists, Joan Puig i Bruguera and Teresa Cadafalch i Bogunyà. He obtained his bachelors from the Escoles Pies de Santa Anna in 1883. From there, he studied physical sciences and mathematics at the University of Barcelona and earned his doctorate at the University of Madrid in 1888 under mentorship of Lluis Domenech i Montaner (1849-1923). He later joined the Centre Escolar Catalanista where he first met Enric Prat de la Riba i Sarrà (1870-1917). Between 1892 to 1896, Puig i Cadafalch was the municipal architect of Mataró. During his term, he worked on projects including the city’s sewer system and Casa Francesc Martí i Puig, which would eventually house Els Quatre Gats––a popular meeting place for Spanish Modernisme artists. He was later elected to serve as councilor of the Barcelona Town Hall between 1901-1903 where he successfully contributed to a new appraisal of Barcelona’s gothic history. He also lectured at L’Escola d’Arquitectura de Barcelona (School of Architecture in Barcelona). In 1908, he began archaeological excavations in Empúries, which he continued for 15 years. Meanwhile, he served in the parliament for Barcelona in Madrid between 1907-1909 and in the provincial government for Barcelona between 1913-1924. In 1917, he replaced Prat de la Riba as President of the Mancomunitat de Catalunya (Commonwealth of Catalonia). He was re-elected and served three terms in office until 1924. His main efforts were focused on developing industrial infrastructure, establishing medial and social welfare institutions, and fighting for Catalonia’s autonomy. He was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Freiburg in 1923 Between 1925 and 1926, he lectured at the University at Sorbonne, Harvard, and Cornell. Later, in 1930, he taught at d the Institute d’Art et Archeologie in Paris and was also bestowed with an honorary degree from the University of Paris. Between 1930-1936, he primarily focused on his works as an architectural historian publishing La geografia i els origen del primer romànic (1930), La place de la Catalogne dans la géographie et la chronologie du premier art roman (1932), and L’architecture gothique civil en catalogne (1935). However, he was forced into exile in France during the Spanish Civil War between 1936 until 1942. In 1949, he was given another honorary degree from the University of Toulouse, and also published his most important work, L’escultura romànica a Catalunya. In the work, he explored the relationship between the aesthetic language of an architectural style and its geography and culture.

    While his work as an architect is often overshadowed by his contemporary Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926), it was pivotal in facilitating a stylistic transition in Catalonia from Modernist to Noucentisme architecture during the turn of the 20th century (Permanyer). On the other hand, his works as an art historian shed light on the importance of architectural historiography. Specifically, he argued that an aesthetic style is both a product and reflection of the identity of the people from which it emerges, and that it is ultimately inseparable from its institutions, customs, and history. As a model, he showed that Romanesque architecture in Catalonia was not introduced as a foreign style, but rather evolved from its own classical architecture. His studies of Romanesque architecture in medieval Catalonia ultimately helped to derive and define a Catalonian cultural identity.

    Selected Bibliography

    • La geografia i els origens del primer romanic, 1930;
    • La place de la Catalogne dans la géographie et la chronologie du premier art roman, 1932;
    • L’architecture gothique civil en Catalogne, 1935;
    • L’arquitectura romànica a Catalunya, 1949.


    • Frank, Grace, Urban T. Holmes, Charles R. D. Miller, Bartlett Jere Whiting, Francis P. Magoun, Kemp Malone, H. M. Smyser, et al. “Memoirs of Fellows and Corresponding Fellows of the Mediaeval Academy of America.” Speculum  34, no. 3 (1959): 530–36;
    • Alexandre, Cirici. “La arquitectura de Puig i Cadafalch.” Cuadernos de arquitectura, 1966, 49–52;
    • Adolf, Florensa i Ferrer. “Puig y Cadafalch, arquitecto, historiador de arte y arqueólogo.” Cuadernos de arquitectura, 1967, 75–78;
    • Guix, Xavier Güell i. “Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Modernist Architect.” Catalònia, 1989, 8–11;
    • Permanyer, Lluís; photographs by Lluis Casals. Josep Puig i Cadafalch. Barcelona: Ediciones Poligrafa,  2001.

    Contributors: Denise Shkurovich


    Denise Shkurovich. "Puig i Cadafalch, Josep." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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