The piece belongs to a private collector in Cataluña. The amounts offered have doubled in recent weeks, from half a million to one million Euros.

Altar Bocabella Bocabella

The Bocabella Altar belongs to a great patron of art, resident of Sitges, and owner of a collection of more than two hundred, high quality pieces. For the work he has accumulated by Gaudí, he was initially offered amounts close to 500000 euros, but in recent weeks the offers have gone up to as much as one million euros.

Unique work of art

The Bocabella Altar is a singular work of art, as is its history. It was commissioned in 1885 from the then young Gaudí by the driving force behind the expiatory temple, Josep Maria Bocabella, who commissioned from the architect the design of the altar for the private chapel in his house. Bocabella, a septuagenarian and a widower, was a devout man and had a large number of reliquaries from saints.

Bocabella wanted a much more ambitious design for the Sagrada Familia than that initiated by the architect Francisco del Villar and, for that reason, resorted to the young Catalan architect to raise the temple.

Interestingly, if life brought Gaudí and Bocabella together on both the project of the Sagrada Familia and the afore-mentioned altar, after death both would suffer a similar fate: their graves were desecrated in the temple fire which took place in 1836.

Original Chrismon

The Altar itself is of carved mahogany, with an elevation of 176 centimetres. It is, evidently, a work from Gaudí’s first phase, although within it we can clearly see signs of the manner in which the architect would pass through to posterity.

In the centre there is a cavity for the reliquaries, covered by a white marble tile. The altar stone is sustained by two striated columns joined by a strong crossbeam. The predella, in turn, is divided into two levels, decorated with floral motifs. In the centre, under the tabernacle, there is a Latin legend with the consecration formula.

On the upper level, there are another two sacra, one with the principle of the Gospel of St John and the other with the ritual phrase “Lavabo Inter. Innocentes manos meas”. The tabernacle door is of damascene cloth, with a very personal interpretation of the Chrismon, representation of the Christian monogram XP, formed by the superimposition of the Greek letters X (ji) and P (ro), abbreviation of the Greek word designating Christ.

In old photographs, this Chrismon appears upright, while currently it appears face down, possibly due to it having been dismantled between 1936 to 1939 to avoid its sacking, and then it was not reassembled correctly. Above the tabernacle, three cherub heads support the cantilevers of the cross and the candlesticks.


The altarpiece, framed by orange tree leaves, a symbol of fidelity, marital love and patriarchal responsibility, consists of three large scenes: to the right, Santa Teresa de Jesús; to the left, San Francisco de Paula; and in the centre, the Sagrada Familia, with the Catalan legend: “Jesus, Josep y Maria, vos dono’l cor y l’ànima mia” (the translation of which into English is: “Jesus, Joseph and Mary, I give you my heart and soul”).

The handicraft work on the Bocabella Altar was done by Frederic Labòria, a reputed cabinetmaker from Reus who moved to Barcelona, whose family maintained friendly relations with that of the architect. In fact, from the Bocabella Altar project, Labòria would also begin to work as a modeller at the Sagrada Familia under the orders of Gaudí, and his sister Rosina would serve as a model for the great Catalan architect for the figure of the Virgin on the “Nacimiento” (Birth) facade.

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