19 th c. Art Gallery
The Picture Gallery holds a large part of the initial collection of paintings. The space recreates the original atmosphere of the Fine art halls of the time, with tall ceilings, velvet walls and an abundance of paintings hanging from them.
We can find paintings that belonged to the founder of the museum, Don Víctor Balaguer, as well as paintings he revieved, donated by contemporary artists.
Pianters like Marià Fortuny, Ramon Martí Alsina, Joaquim Vayreda, Joaquín Sorolla, Modest Urgell, Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol stand out amongst others.
There are also represented the most significant artistic styles of the time: Romanticism, Realism and Symbolism.
The main genres one can find are landscapes, portraits and "anecdotal" paintings, which correspond to the taste of the bourgeoisie of the time.
The Library Museum Víctor Balaguer was inaugurated in the year 1884 exhibiting not only the founders own personal collection of art but also a significant collection of Baroc art given as a deposit by the Prado Museum, with paintings by El Greco, Ribera and Rubens. Balaguer provided this particular cultural project with the highest level possible at that time. This deposit is one of the oldest Prado deposits known.
In this collection of Baroque art there are represented the Castillian and the Andalusian schools, and, to a lesser extent, the Flemish and Italian schools. The paintings are laid out in four different thematic sections: Religious paintings, noble portraiture, myths, allegories and nature, including still life. It offers us a quite complete look at the art of the 17th and 18th centuries which is a very, as you will see, dynamic, expressive, grandiloquent and complex art, with sets of lights, chiaroscuros, tenebrism, sophisticated compositions and rich nuances.
In the first floor you will find represented the first artistic movements that took place in the end of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. Modernism, Postmodernism and "Noucentisme". Theses are small works of art, painted by the most important artists of the moment, such as Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas, Anglada Camarasa, Joaquim Mir, Isidre Nonell, Francesc Domingo, or Xavier Nogués, amongst others. The Catalan artists would go to Paris, a cosmopolitan city cradle of modernity, and would come back with new artistic horizons. The light, the atmosphere, the volume, the fugacity of the brevity of the instant, the colour vibration. On the other hand, "Noucentisme" goes back to the classic canons with a placid mediteranism with soft tones. In total there are 150 paintings and engravings, that arrived at the institution in 1956, and this collection is named after that date.
Related to local history, there is a room with paintings that once belonged to the "Café Foment" and a brief section of works by artists that pertained to the Vilanova's school.
Of all the paintings in this part of the museum the most impressive would have to be the ones belonging to the informalist movement, which are shown in different tendencies and style through there respective artists. There are works by Joan Tharrats, Josep Guinovart, Joan Hernández Pijoan, Albert Ràfols Casamada, Antonio Saura… and sculptors like Àngel Ferrant, Andreu Alfaro…
The majority of the works of the contemporary collection come from the collection that once belonged to the first Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona, founded in 1959, which was moved to the Library Museum four years after its closure. This avoided the dispersion of this important collection, considered to be the most complete collection of imformalist art in Catalonia.