Josep M. Jujol. An approximation - Montserrat Duran i Albareda


Gaudí and Jujol - J. Bassegoda

Torre de la Creu, Sant Joan Despí

Escala interior de la Casa Planells (Barcelona, 1923)

Volta de l'escala de Can Negre

Photos © Montserrat Duran

Josep M. Jujol. An approach

An architect born in Tarragona in 1879 and he died in Barcelona in 1949. He studied in the School of Architecture of Barcelona and he was initiated in the world of architecture as the assistant of fully Modernist architects, such as Antoni M. Gallissà and Josep Font i Gumà. From 1904 on he got in touch with Antoni Gaudí. It is from the collaboration with the latter when he started a fruitful career, which will have a very important scope in his trajectory. That led Francesc Pujols, one of the most important writers of that time, to deduce in 1927 that Jujol could be the most faithful successor of the interrupted Gaudí’s work because of his sudden death in 1926, namely the survey of the construction of the Sagrada Familia temple. That wouldn’t be possible, though.

Gaudí made Jujol to take part in his works in the Park Güell, Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Sagrada Familia and in the reform of the Palma de Mallorca Cathedral. The same with the of public ornament commissions, such as the “Jocs Florals” of Barcelona (1907), the inscriptions in the arch in the Tapineria street of Barcelona paying homage to King James I (1908) and the commemorative street lamps in the centennial of the Jaume Balmes’ birth in Vic (1910).

Besides, Gaudí was the responsible of managing to transfer to Jujol, some projects, which would have been commissioned to him, which would become fundamental in his production and professional projection. As an instance, the reform of the Theatre of the “Patronat Obrer” in Tarragona (1908), the reform of the Mañach Shop in Barcelona (1911) and the abbot’s throne for the Abbot of Montserrat (1921). And even more, for we find their links are kept in situations like the Orfeó Català autograph album (1922) and in the Exhibition of Liturgical Art in the Sala Parés (1925). During these years Jujol will make, as an independent architect, his best works, from the Torre de la Creu in Sant Joan Despí (1913) till the Casa Planells (1923) in Barcelona.

The date of 1926, as we have already told, can be considered as changing point in his production. For instance, we can assert that it is from 1926 onwards, when Jujol widens his multiple activities –it must be kept in mind that he was a professor in the School of Architecture since 1910 and since 1924 in the Technical School of Arts and Crafts. In October 1926 he was designed the municipal assisting architect of Sant Joan Despí, an activity he would develop together with Gabriel Borrell, who was the titular one. Because of his adscription with the municipality of Sant Joan Despí, Jujol heads his interests towards a lesser or modest architecture, of commission, tied to the enterprise activities of the local builders. We call them local because apart from his entailment with the Xaus enterprise from Sant Joan, he would also work for other building promoters like Claramunt i Molins, both from Sant Feliu de Llobregat.

Although that within this period Jujol will work in two quite important projects (a building and the monumental fountain for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition and the Samuntà development project in Sant Joan Despí, started in 1926). He did not succeed in having important promoters to give new impulse to the professional projection he had had until then.

Another changing point was unchained by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. In 1939, and during the first years of the dictatorship, his promotion didn’t finally take place, on the contrary the more –surely the very Jujol- would have believed. One of the most important works he would have carried out was the building of the new parish church of Sant Joan Despí during the nineteen forties. Having done Jujol its corresponding project, this commission was finally handed to Josep M. Ayxelà Tarrats. Despite that Jujol would execute part of the inner decoration, he also ought to finish the construction of the building, assuming the leading of the works of a project he hadn’t designed.

It is during these years prior to his death in 1949, that Jujol started a quite important activity in the restoration of diverse parish churches scattered through many villages from Barcelona and Tarragona, most of them damaged during the Spanish Civil War. What appears to be certain, however, is that these commissions were the fruit of the mutual knowledge with the parish priests. The friendship links were newly decisive to keep on being necessary, despite being them rather modest works.

To finish with we could add that the Jujol’s professional cycle ends in the very way it had started: if Jujol firmly started his career together with Gaudí, he also ended it beside the work of that he had given him a good backing. We’re quoting the Colonia Güell church, in which Jujol, between 1943 and 1947, could make there the Sagrada Família altar, together with a series of other furniture elements.

Montserrat Duran i Albareda
Doctor in History of Art
Sant Joan Despí, 22nd March 2004

She is the author of:

  • Josep M. Jujol a Sant Joan Despí. Projectes i Obres (1913-1949), Fotografies de Xavier Miserachs, CMB i Ajuntament de Sant Joan Despí, Barcelona, 1987.
  • Josep M. Jujol. L’arquitectura amagada, Fotografies d’Albert Fortuny, Meteora, Barcelona, 2003.