Ramón Casas, the portrait of Art Nouveau

Ramón Casas is one of the most famous Art Nouveau painters, especially for his famous portraits of the great personalities of the time. Among those who have passed in front of his brushes are Pablo Picasso, Puig i Cadafalch and Santiago Rusiñol.

First steps

Ramón Casas i Carbó was born in Barcelona on 4 January 1866. He is known as one of the great artists of Catalan Art Nouveau for his varied creations. His work ranges from formal paintings such as portraits to posters, postcards and even caricatures. Through his work we can learn more about life in the early 20th century and its great artists.

Ramón Casas left school at the age of 12 to begin his artistic studies in the studio of Juan Vicens Cots. He spent three years learning the painting techniques there until he moved to Paris, where he learned from the painter Charles August Émile Duran, “Carolus”, a great admirer of Velázquez and later Henri Gervex. During his stay in Paris he co-founded the magazine L’Avenç and published his first drawing there.

During his first artistic take-off he met great artists of the time such as Santiago Rusiñol, Eugène Carrière and Ignacio Zuloaga. He managed to recover from his first tuberculosis in Barcelona and after that, Rusiñol and Casas began to work together on Por Cataluña (From My Cart), a work that reflects his experiences travelling around corners of Catalonia in a horse-drawn cart, with texts by Rusiñol and illustrations by Casas. The collaborations between the two artists became increasingly frequent and successful, and they even lived together in Paris with other curious figures of modernism such as Miguel Utrillo.

The Quatre Gats

On his return to Barcelona, Casas financed the Quatre Gats, a famous bar located on the ground floor of the Casa Martí de Puig i Cadafalch that hosted various exhibitions and art gatherings. Pere Romeu, Rusiñol, Miquel Utrillo and Casas also created a literary magazine of the same name.  From 1900 onwards his fame increased dramatically, and he had his first individual exhibitions, culminating in the great exhibition and tribute to their work organised by the Reial Cercle Artístic in 1930. On his return to Barcelona he also met Julia Peraire. Seh was a young lottery saleswoman whom he ended up marrying him in 1922 despite the opposition of the painter’s family.

A few years later, Casas fell ill with tuberculosis again, although he continued to create and exhibit his work. He died on 29 February 1932 from tuberculosis and was buried in the Montjuic Cemetery in Barcelona.

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