Museu Cau Ferrat
Temporarily closed for refurbishment.
(C Fonollar, s/n. 08870 Sitges. Tel. 93 894 03 64)
Santiago Rusiñol, art as sacrosanct
Despite the fact that the Cau Ferrat building opened as a museum in the year 1933, it had existed as the structure we see today since the late nineteenth century, when Santiago Rusiñol, its creator, acquired two fisherman’s houses and converted them into the building which would serve as both his studio and his home. The emblematic space houses his vast artistic collections. As an artist, storyteller, collector, tireless traveller, successful playwright, amateur archaeologist, journalist and above all, pioneer of the modernist movement, Santiago Rusiñol (Barcelona 1861-Aranjuez, 1931) was an intellectual and incredibly passionate character. He conceived art as sacred and the artist as the chosen one, who was destined to defend his ideals at all costs.
From his home in Sitges, Rusiñol spread the ideas of his Total Art theory, which identified art as a new religion. Due to its hosting of Modernist parties (1892-1899), the construction of the Cau Ferrat building (1893-1894) and the inauguration of the monument to El Greco (1898), Sitges became a Mecca for Modernism and Rusiñol took his place in the highest order of this new artistic and cultural movement.
The Cau Ferrat or ‘The Temple of Art’
Rusiñol developed the Cau Ferrat into the temple of art excellence. A temple open to devotees and pilgrims in search of true Beauty from all over the world. From the day of its opening it became clear that the Cau Ferrat was to be much more than a house and workshop, it was to be a shrine. Rusiñol’s ultimate intention was to create an intimate living space tailored to his own needs.
Therefore, ‘The Cau’ became one of the favourite bohemian hideouts at the end of the century. Some of the most prominent figures of the time spent a night or two within its walls, from Joan Maragall and Emilia Pardo Bazán to Belgian musicians Eugène Ysaye and Ernest Chausson. Other visitors included Angel Guimerà, Benito Perez Galdos, Angel Ganivet and Manuel de Falla, to name but a few.
The collections of the Cau Ferrat
In addition to the two paintings by El Greco that Rusiñol bought in Paris, ‘The Cau’ hosts many other treasures. The collection of wrought iron it contains is one of the best in Europe. With more than eight hundred objects, it is a collection that succeeds in educating us about the history of this type of art from the twelfth to the nineteenth century. Many of the pieces are of Catalan origin, although there are also Castilian, French and Central European works.
The array of glass pieces on display is also worth noting. In two distinct moments of his life Rusiñol acquired, firstly the set of modern glass bought in 1902 from Alexandre de Riquer, and secondly, a glass collection resulting from archaeological excavations carried out in Ibiza in 1913.
There is also a very varied collection of ceramics, with over two hundred pieces from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries from major ceramics workshops from Catalonia, Valencia, Castile, Aragon, Andalusia and Murcia. Furniture and sculptures make up a smaller collection, with some exceptional pieces to be seen.
The collection of painting and drawing is one that arouses most interest among visitors. On the one hand, it brings together works which Rusiñol wished to hold on to forever, clear evidence of his fondness for these particular pieces. And on the other hand because it represents many of the biggest names in Catalan painting from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: Ramon Casas, Pablo Picasso, Arcadi Mas i Fondevila, Isidre Nonell, Hermenegild Anglada-Camarasa, among others.