Manuel Ballarín and the Art of Modernist Forging

Manuel Ballarín y Lancuentra is known for having been one of the best forger of Catalan Modernism. His talent earned him many collaborations with the great modernist architect Puig i Cadafalch.


Manuel Ballarín was born on September 23rd, 1863. With little more than twenty years he founded his own workshop of forge and artistic foundry: "Casa Ballarín". This workshop would eventually become one of the most famous in Barcelona and would have more than 20 workers. 

Manuel Ballarín worked on the main works of Puig i Cadafalch such as the Casa de les Punxes or the Casa Amatller. His professional relationship was so close that Puig i Cadafalch became a partner of Casa Ballarín in 1898, after collaborating with him in three of his works.

His work is not limited to Puig i Cadafalch, but we can admire it when we walk along the Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, since he collaborated in the manufacture of the famous benches of that walk.

Serial pieces: the revolution of the forge

In 1900, Ballarín innovates in its services and offers a catalog of modernist forged pieces. This catalog offered the possibility of combining these pieces in a personalized way and its serial production managed to lower its cost greatly . This is considered one of its most characteristic gestures, which contributed to modernize the forge of the time.

Relationship with Puig i Cadafalch

Puig i Cadafalch was not only his workshop partner and the architect for whom he did most of the work, but he was also the one who made a house for him.

Puig i Cadafalch made a house for Manuel Ballarín in 1907, when he and Ballarín had already worked together on nine projects. Ballarín accompanied Puig i Cadafalch from his first house in Barcelona: the Casa Martí. His collaborations extended for 15 years in such emblematic works as the Casa Serra, the Palau del Baró de Quadras or the Casa Macaya.

Did you know Manuel Ballarín? He is one of our favorite artisans. If you want to know more about the artisans of the Casa de les Punxes, you can find them here.

10 modernist artists you should know about

Almost everyone knows the great modernist architects such as Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner or Puig i Cadafalch but not so many know the great painters, sculptors and other artists who worked with them or on their own great works. Today we share with you a selection of 10 Catalan artists of Catalan modernism that you should know.

1 Lluís Domènech i Montaner

Domènech i Montaner was not only a well-known modernist architect of his time, but also responsible for the training of other great architects of his time such as Gaudí and Puig i Cadafalch. He is known as one of the most famous and valued artists of Catalan Modernism, and several of his works have been catalogued as World Heritage by UNESCO. He is the author of buildings such as the modernist enclosure of Sant Pau, the Lleó Morera house and the Palau de la Música Catalana. 

2 Ramón Casas

Ramón Casas is one of the most famous modernist painters, especially for his well-known portraits of prominent figures. Among those who passed through his brushes, we can find Pablo Picasso, Puig i Cadafalch and Santiago Rusiñol. Ramón Casas i Carbó was born in Barcelona on January 4, 1866. He is known as one of the great painters of Catalan modernism for his various creations. From portraits to posters, postcards and even comics, they all form part of his work. Through his work, we can better understand the life of the early 20th century and its great artists.

3 Josep Llimona i Bruguera

Josep Llimona i Bruguera is one of the most famous sculptors of Catalan modernism and a famous collaborator of Gaudí. Josep Llimona is considered one of the main representatives of modernist sculpture. Among his prolific works, one of his most outstanding is "Desconsuelo", which won an honorary prize at the Barcelona International Art Exhibition in 1907. He also collaborated with Gaudí in Montserrat to create the sculpture "Cristo ressucitat". In 1920 the entire room of the Barcelona Art Exhibition was dedicated to him in homage. A few years later, he created the statue of St. George, considered one of his masterpieces.

4 Antoni Maria Gallissà

Antoni Maria Gallissà is an important modernist architect, a close friend of Josep Puig i Cadafalch and a regular collaborator of Lluís Domènech i Montaner. One of his most famous and well-known architectural works is the Casa Llopis Bofill in Barcelona. As for Gallissà, despite being an architect, it must be said that he also stood out a lot in the design of decorative elements. 

5 Josep Maria Jujol

Josep Maria Jujol i Gibert was a Catalan modernist artist and a regular collaborator of Gaudí.

During his studies, Jujol worked with architect and professor Antoni Maria Gallissà i Soqué (he was considered a great teacher) to carefully design decorative details. Josep Maria Jujol had not even finished his studies when he started working with Gaudí in places like La Pedrera, Casa Batlló or Park Güell. Besides maintaining a close relationship with great modernist architects such as Gallissa or Gaudí, Jujol also created a very personal style. He is characterized by his great attention to detail, his religious decorations and the colorism of his works.

6 Antoni Gaudí

Can anything new be said about the great architect of nature? Who does not know his work? We can tell you a couple of curiosities that not everyone knows. For example, Gaudí almost never designed his works on plans, but rather on three-dimensional models in full detail. This way, collaborators could see it as he had projected it in his mind. Another detail that we confess is that the famous technique of "trencadís" that we can see in his work, was invented by himself and was used for the first time in the construction of the Güell estate.

7 Josep Puig i Cadafalch

The young Puig i Cadafalch was one of Domènech i Montaner's disciples. He is considered one of the last representatives of Catalan modernism and one of the first representatives of Noucentisme. His works are usually divided into three periods: modernist, idealist, rationalist and memorialist. During his modernist period, he created famous works such as Casa Amatler, Casa Martí or one of his most famous works: Casa Terradas or Casa de les Punxes.

8 Pere Caselles

Pere Caselles i Tarrats was a very important modernist architect for Reus. When he was young he was an assistant to Domènech i Montaner and discovered architectural modernism directly in collaboration with the Pere Mata Institute. Most of the modernist buildings in Reus are attributed to Caselles, although not all were signed by him. As a municipal architect, he was not allowed to accept private commissions because it was considered incompatible.Many of his plans were signed by his friend, also an architect, Pau Monguió.

9&10 IIsidre Gili and Pau Salvat

These are not one, but two modernist architects who projected much of their work together.

A curious fact about Isidre Gili and Moncunill is that not all their work is in Catalonia, but they also have it in Logroño. His works in Barcelona are of small dimensions.  Most of his work can be found in Igualada. In this city he began to design projects with Pau Salvat and later they would also design in Lleida.

Pau Salvat was not only a great modernist architect, but he was also an editor, specifically of Salvat Editors, the publishing house he inherited from his father.

Salvat was the municipal architect of Igualada, where he designed several buildings with Gili.

Isidre Gili and Pau Salvat met for a few years in Igualada and later in Lleida and designed emblematic buildings in both cities.

What did you think? Did you know all these modernist artists? If you are still curious and want to know more, click on their name to discover our articles about them.

10 curiosities about Puig i Cadafalch

  1. During his years of study at the School of Architecture, he stood out from all the students. He also maintained a close relationship with the then professor in charge of the subjects of Materials and Application of Science in Architecture, Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
  2. In addition to the friendship with whom he can be considered his main teacher, Puig i Cadafalch also maintained a close relationship with the then director of the centre, Elies Rogent . From whom it is believed he received his admiration for medieval architecture. This interest in medieval architecture is responsible for the medieval influences on the Casa de les Punxes.Domènech i Montaner i Elies Rogent
  3. During the first years of his profession, due to an apparent lack of opportunities, he established, together with Josep Miracle,a preparatory academy for students who wanted to enter the special schools of Engineering and Architecture in which Puig i Cadafalch gave drawing classes. After a year he will leave teaching because of his appointment as municipal architect of Mataró.
  4. Of the projects he carried out in his hometown, the most outstanding is the improvement of the sewage network by designing a new one. It had the aim of improving the poor health conditions of the city.
  5. The performance of this project was one of the reasons that led Puig i Cadafalch to leave the post of municipal architect. He found it impossible to combine his professional activities. These were multiplying, with the development of new projects not only in Mataró but also in the city of Barcelona.Mataró
  6. His first big project in the Catalan capital was the Casa Martí. This house would later establish one of the most influential, important and famous places in the city, "Els Quatre Gats", on its first floor.
  7. When the Civil War broke out, Josep Puig i Cadafalch decided to go into exile in France to escape the internal wars that were taking place on the Republican side in Catalonia. Instead of signing the document of accession to the national side, he decided to stay in France. Meanwhile he accept some commissions from the French government, such as the restoration of the Romanesque monastery of San Miquel de Cuixà.
  8. After the first exile, he continued to be involved in cultural activities and participated in some cultural events that took place in very small spaces practically in secret. His participation in some of these activities led him to go into exile for a second time in 1942. Because he was warned that an arrest warrant was being considered against him.
  9. The last known publication of him is a modest collaboration in the edition of the book "ArtCatalà" in the chapter on monumental Romanesque sculpture. The book was published in 1957, the year of his death, on December 23rd.
  10. Puig i Cadafalch left portraits of himself represented in some of his works, as we can see in his face hidden among the decoration of the Casa de les Punxes or himself on a bicycle in the Palau Macaya.

Modernist stained-glass windows, between innovation and tradition

The modernist artists recovered the old technique of decorative stained-glass and introduced it in their architectural works. This meant a revolution in their use, manufacture and traditional themes.


The passage of the decorative stained-glass from the religious to the civil area brought about a modernization of the existing themes and the creation of new ones destined to the decoration of spaces where until then it was not usual to find them as halls, offices, shops. 

With the modernist buildings appear new decorative motifs, among which the production of floral and plant themes predominate. During the Modernism, the stained-glass became popular and reached all the daily spaces, being incorporated in the furniture as a decorative element and going beyond the representations of religious character.


While the manufacture of the stained-glass continues to be a craft and the imprint of industrialization is very low, the same does not happen with the systems for processing the raw material: glass. The mechanization of the production of the glass plate involves: 

  • A wide variety of printed glass using new models with many textures and shades. 
  • The glass molds are produced in series from a matrix. These are small glass pieces that could have different colors and shapes (circular, square, rhomboid, etc) and were manufactured industrially. In the modernist stained-glass windows it is customary to use combinations with other types of glass. 


Parallel to the industrialization process, with their research the modernist glassmakers solve the problems of firing that presented the stained-glass windows of previous times and improve the ancient techniques of polychrome on glass. 

From the research carried out at this time, three technical contributions should be highlighted: cloisonné glass, Tiffany glass and “tricromía”.

  • Cloisonné glass: It is made from small glass balls that fill the holes created by copper filaments. Everything is glued between two sheets of glass.
  • Tiffany glass: It was created in 1900 and it is not dyed. Oxides are used in the making of the drawings and the pieces are baked.
  • Tricomía Glass: This is a superposition of glass composed of two or more sheets of different colors or primary colors. The result is a composition that weighs a lot, which caused it to be used less and less.
  • Mosaic glass: It is characterized by a minimal pictorial intervention in the glass. The glass is the protagonist and the plays of light and colors are obtained by combining glasses of different typologies and tonalities. 

On the other hand, lead, which until then had only been considered a basic element for supporting the glass plates, will become the main element of the design.

Unlike the glassmakers of previous periods, many modernist artists will receive academic training at the Llotja School in Barcelona. This education will provide the specialist with more training than the traditional medieval craftsmanship, developed within a guild structure. 

Did you know all these data about the modernist stained-glass windows? If you are interested in modernist craftsmanship you can't miss these 5 modernist smiths that you should know.

Casa de les Punxes

10 curiosities about the Casa de les Punxes

  1. On April 4, 1903, Àngela Brutau, Bartomeu Terradas' widow, bought the land that Mr. Rafael Bartes i Llagostera had on the edge of the Villa de Gracia in the name of his three daughters, Àngela, Josefa and Rosa. This land, where later the Casa de les Punxes would be located, is very singular. It was triangular and smaller than most of those in the Eixample.
  2. Despite the fact that the building block looks like a single house, it is made up of three apartment buildings, each belonging to one of the three sisters. First, the on the corner of Avenida Diagonal and Calle del Rosselló belonged to Àngela (453m2). The one on the corner between Avenida and Calle Bruca la Rosa (462m2). The central and largest one to Josefa (509m2).
  3. Puig i Cadafalch managed to comply with the directives of the Pla Cerdà without having to design a large central garden for the house like most of the blocks of flats in the Eixample. With small interior patios he was able to guarantee the necessary ventilation and hygiene.

    Casa de les Punxes
    Casa de les Punxes
  4. Although the main façade of the house is the one we find at the intersection of Rosselló Street and Diagonal Avenue, the entrances to the three buildings are on Diagonal Avenue
  5. The Casa de las Punxes was inspired by different buildings for its construction. One of them is the medieval Castle of Pierrefonds, restored by E. E. Viollet-le-Duke at the request of Napoleon III shortly before the birth of Puig i Cadafalch. The other is the Castle of Neuschwanstein, a tribute by Ludwig II to the operas of Wagner. If you want to know more about these buildings, we recommend you to visit: Puig i Cadafalch's influences in the Casa de les Punxes.
  6. Castillo de Neuschwanstein
    Castillo de Neuschwanstein
    Castillo de Pierrefonds

    Each of the three buildings of the Casa de les Punxes has a ground floor and four floors with two floors each. The ground floors were intended for commercial premises and the three upper floors for rent. It was on the main floors that the owners of the house lived.

  7. In the decoration of the facade we can see the representation of the passage of time if we look at the evolution of natural details from top to bottom of the house.Casa de les Punxes
  8. Àngela Brutau requested the installation of gas lamps at the entrance to the Casa de les Punxes in 1905, but the Barcelona City Council refused because it had already developed the Avenida Diagonal with electric lighting.
  9. In May 1906, Àngela Brutau asked the City Council for permission to install an "electro motor and lift" in the three buildings of the Casa de les Punxes, thus installing one of the first lifts in Barcelona still in operation.
  10. Finally, in the Casa de les Punxes, Àngela and La Rosa lived with their mother on the main floor of Avenida Diagonal 420 and Josefa with her husband on the main floor of 418.

Pere Caselles i Tarrats, the modernist jewel of Reus

Pere Caselles i Tarrats was a very important modernist architect for Reus. Most of the city's modernist buildings are his work, although curiously not all bear his signature.


Pere Caselles i Tarrats was born on 1 November 1864 in Reus. During his youth, he studied in Barcelona and obtained the title of architect at the age of 25, in 1889. The following year, he was already the municipal architect of Terol and a year later, of Reus, a position he held for almost all his life. During this stage he became Domènech i Montaner's assistant and discovered architectural modernism first-hand with his collaboration in the works of the Pere Mata Institute.

Pere Mata Institute

Authorship controversy

Most of the modernist buildings in Reus are attributed to Caselles, although not all are signed by him. As a municipal architect, he was not allowed to receive private commissions, since he was considered incompatible. Many of his plans were signed by his friend Pau Monguió, the architect from Tarragona of his promotion. Some Monguió’s works in Tortosa were also signed by Pere Caselles, for the same reason, since the former was the town's municipal architect. The plans given to the owners that are still preserved do not coincide in terms of signatures with those of the building permit files, which is why it is difficult to ensure that some buildings were designed by him.


Casa Munné/Abelló, Estació Enològica, Casa Sagarra



Pere Caselles i Tarrats was murdered at the beginning of the civil war, on 28 July 1936. His file was destroyed during the raid on his office, the same day he died from a gunshot wound. Pau Monguió's archive was also destroyed by a bomb, so studying his relationship and the authorship of his works is a difficult task.


Do you know of any other examples of modernist authors with controversial authorship? If you found it interesting, we recommend you to discover Francesc Berenguer, the shadow of Gaudí.

Isidre Gili and Pau Salvat, the modernist tandem

Isidre Gili i Moncunill and Pau Salvat i Espasa were unconventional Catalan modernist architects who designed part of their work together.

Isidre Gili i Moncunill

A curious fact about Isidre Gili i Moncunill is that not all his work is in Catalonia, but he also has some in Logroño.

His works in Barcelona are of small dimensions, such as the Casa Ernest Castellar (1914-1915), a building between party walls, elongated and with a modernist decoration that includes sgraffito, ceramic decoration and plays of colours.

The most prolific and diverse part of his work can be found in Igualada, where we find several of his works of an industrial nature, modernist reforms such as "Cal Blai" or iconic houses such as the well-known "Ca la Mamita", also called "Cal Franquesa" (1905-1906). In this city he began to design projects with Pau Salvat and later they would also design in Lleida.

Finally, we find the work he did in Logroño, a four-storey house for the successful businessman Antoni Garrigosa Borrell, which became known as "Casa A. Garrigosa" (1902). In this house, workers and materials imported from Catalonia took part and to build the viewpoints it was necessary to modify a municipal ordinance. The ceramic decoration and the sgraffito on the façade of this building stand out.

 Casa Ernest Castellar / Can La Mamita / Casa A. Garrigosa

Pau Salvat i Espasa

Pau Salvat was not only a great modernist architect, but also an editor, specifically of Salvat Editors, the publishing house he inherited from his father. From 1916, the latter moved its headquarters to a building he designed himself.

Salvat, in addition to being an architect and publisher, was also very involved with the political and cultural contemporaneity of the time: he was president of the Association of Architects of Catalonia, of the Catalan Institute of the Arts of the Book and of the Centre for Intellectual Property. He was also a councillor of the Barcelona City Council for a while, until he had to retire for health reasons.

Salvat was the municipal architect of Igualada, where he designed several buildings with Gili and planned the cemetery of the poor (1909) and the Igualadí Athenaeum Theatre (1913). He designed the Casa Oller in Barcelona, with influences from Puig and Cadafalch and the Editorial Salvat building, among others.

Teatro Ateneo Igualadí / Casa Oller / Editorial SalvatTheir work in common

Isidre Gili and Pau Salvat met for a few years in Igualada and then in Lleida.

In Igualada, while Salvat was the municipal architect, they built the emblematic Igualada Slaughterhouse (1903-1905), a covered market, popularly called "La Pajarera" (1905-1910) and Cal Ratés (1908).

Igualada Slaughterhouse (1903-1905)"La Pajarera" (1905-1910) Cal Ratés (1908).In Lleida, they also built an emblematic building of the city, the Main Casino (1913-1920). This building is characterized by its historicist style and the columns with Ionic capitals on which the semicircular arches rest stand out.

Did you know these two modernist architects? Do you know more modernist architects working together?

The three stages of Puig i Cadafalch's work

 Puig i Cadafalch is generally known as one of the great modernist architects. The one that not so many people know are the other stages of his time. Modernisme was only the beginning of Puig i Cadafalch's work, today we discover all his career:

According to Alexandre Cirici and Pellicer, Puig and Cadafalch's work is easily divided into three stages: the pink, the white and the yellow. These three stages are not only related to the fashions and tastes of the moment, but also to the architects he admired and studied throughout his life.

Pink period

The first is the pink period or the Modernist stage, the best known. This is the period in which he designed his well-known and large Modernist buildings such as the Casa Amatller, the Casa Macaya or the Casa de les Punxes. During these years, Puig i Cadafalch will have Nordic influences and will work for big bourgeois families, designing big houses for them.

Casa Amatller, Casa Macaya and Casa de les Punxes.White period

The white period corresponds to the stage of rationalist idealism. During this period, Puig i Cadafalch projected his works according to the new tastes of the bourgeoisie: order and practicality. During these years he projected works such as the now disappeared Casa Trinxet, Casa Muntades or Casa Pere Company.

Casa Trinxet, Casa Muntades and Casa Pere Company

Yellow period

The third stage is the Monumentalist, characterized by the yellowish color of the facades, the monumentalism of the buildings and the mixture of styles of his works. In this stage we find buildings that start from the Roman architecture and that are mixed with typical Andalusian or Valencian styles, resulting in a very special beauty. During this period Puig i Cadafalch designed such singular works as the Casa Pich y Pon. This was inspired by the work of Louis Henry Sullivan, an American architect he admired.

Casa Pich i Pon

Hydraulic ceramics, the modernist pavement

Have you ever noticed the floors of modernist buildings? Their decoration is so detailed that they look like carpets! Most of these floors are made of hydraulic ceramics, a type of handcrafted flooring very common during the Art Nouveau era.

Relation with Art Nouveau

Until the middle of the 19th century, noble floors were mainly made of marble. But at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1867, a new type of tile was presented that would largely banish the old materials: a tile that was made without firing, only with presses. This was the birth of hydraulic flooring. In Barcelona, the great expansion of this material coincided with Modernism. For this reason, great architects of the time such as Lluís Domènech i Montaner or Josep Puig i Cadafalch incorporated it into their buildings.


The hydraulic tile was manufactured piece by hand. It had three layers:

  • The visible, decorative layer, based on a mixture of white marble powder, white cement, sand and pigments. This is the visible surface. It was about 5mm thick. The colors of the designs were created by adding the color pigments to the mixture and adding a little of mixture to each segment of the mold to make the desired drawing.
  • The body, which was similar in thickness, was made only of gray Portland cement and sand, which absorbed excess water from the thin layer.
  • Base of the tile, made with gray cement and sand, about 12 mm thick, and is the layer that adhered to the floor. Its porous surface meant that it adhered easily when the tile was laid.


The entire mold with the three layers was placed in a hydraulic press, which consolidated it under pressure. Once the operation was completed, a hardening process began, which required the necessary humidity to strengthen the cement. The name hydraulics comes from being submerged in water for 24 hours and then kept moist.

The measurements of the hydraulic mosaics were diverse, there were 10 x 10 cm, 20 x 20 cm, 40 x 40 cm and even more measurements. Their designs often had floral and vegetal motifs inspired by the classic models. On the floors of the Casa de les Punxes you can find some of them designed and decorated by Enric Monserdà and other modernist artists and a small permanent exhibition on hydraulic flooring. You can also buy a replica of a tile from different modernist buildings in our shop.

Did you know about hydraulic flooring? How it was manufactured? If you want to know more about the pottery of the Casa de les Punxes, visit this entry about the secrets of the pottery of the Casa de les Punxes.

10 curiosities you need to know about Gaudí

You are probably familiar with the works of the world's most famous Catalan Modernist architect: La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, La Sagrada Família... His life is often much less well known. That's why we have made this compilation of 10 curiosities about Gaudí, so that you can get to know him a little better:


  1. Even today, where Gaudí was born is a mystery. Some biographies indicate that he was born in Reus, while others indicate that he was born in Riudoms.
  2. He was a very sickly child, who spent long periods of rest in the Mas de la Calderera, a family country house in Riudoms where he could have been born and observed the nature he would later use in his work.
  3. The director of his primary school, Francesc Berenguer, was the father of one of his great collaborators: Francesc Berenguer i Mestres.


  1. When he moved to Barcelona, he worked while studying to pay for his architectural studies, in which he did not stand out as a good student, but was rather irregular.
  2. When he finished his studies, the director of the School of Architecture, Elies Rogent, declared about him: "I don't know if we gave the degree to a madman or a genius, time will tell".
  3. Two years before he finished his studies, his brother and mother died. A year after finishing them, his other sister died, leaving a niece with serious health problems in the care of him and her father.


  1. His relationship with Eusebi Güell was not only one of patronage, but also one of his deepest friendships.
  2. He almost never designed his works on plans, but on three-dimensional models in every detail. In this way, the collaborators could see them as he had projected them in his mind.
  3. His famous "trencadís" technique was invented by himself and was used for the first time in the construction of the Güell estate.
  4. When he died, he was run over by a tram and nobody recognized him because of his careless appearance, until he met the priest of the Sagrada Familia in the hospital. 

What did you think? Did you know these curiosities about Gaudí?