C. Fonollar, s/n. 08870 Sitges. Telf. 93 894 03 64
Miquel Utrillo and Charles Deering
The construction of the monumental Maricel buildings, between 1910 and 1916, transformed the face of the old town of Sitges, giving it a distinctive identity that has remained to this day. The Maricel was the work of two unique men: American industrialist and collector Charles Deering (Paris, Maine, 1852-Miami, 1927) and the engineer and artist Miquel Utrillo i Morlius (Barcelona, 1862-Sitges, 1934).
The Maricel’s story began in the autumn of 1909, when the painter Ramon Casas introduced Deering to Sitges. The American liked the town so much that he made immediate plans to build a residence here and asked the artist to find him a house near the Cau Ferrat. Unable to take over the project, Casas introduced him to his friend Miquel Utrillo .Utrillo soon became the millionaire’s trusted acquaintance, and in 1910 mediated in the acquisition of the former Hospital de San Juan Bautista that Deering bought from Sitges Council for 40,000 pesetas. The following year Utrillo oversaw decoration of the property. What he created was a stately home complete with ornamental elements from different periods and origins. On completion Deering then purchased more houses on the north side of Calle Fonollar and others located in Calle San Juan and the town hall square. Between 1912 and 1916, Utrillo built the Maricel de Terra and connected it to Maricel de Mar by means of a bridge over Calle de Fonollar.
Highly valuable collections
As an avid collector, Deering coerced his companion Utrillo to travel throughout the peninsula in search of the relics from religious and civic buildings left in ruins. The items he found were then incorporated into the facades of the Maricel. Under the direction of Utrillo, a number of artists and artisans also became involved in the project. One such collaborator was sculptor Pere Jou, who, in 1915 came to Sitges to create fifty capitals decorating the doors and windows of the new building. His legacy is, to this day, one of the main attractions of the museum. Deering converted the interior of the Maricel into an authentic museum. The exceptional collections on display included, among other pieces, paintings by El Greco, Zurbaran, Goya, Mor, Casas and Sunyer. There were sculptures by Clara, Llimona and Casanovas, Sert murals, and altarpieces such as Bernat Martorell’s Saint George, which is a jewel of fourteenth century Catalan art. One could also find Assyrian seals, Chinese bronzes, and numerous items of furniture and tapestries of great historical value.
Deering lived in Sitges for a considerable time. And then, one day in 1921, he packed up his bags and the art he had accumulated and left the Maricel. Representatives from various sectors of the town gathered at the Maricel to prevent the relocation of this important collection. However, their efforts were in vain as, soon after, the invaluable selection of artwork was packed and transported by truck to the port of Tarragona, from where it began its long journey to the United States. Today, many of the works can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Salons and terraces
On the ‘Noble Floor’ of the Palau Maricel one can find two rooms of notable beauty: the Golden room and Blue room, each room being decorated uniquely. Designed for public use, these rooms are ideally suited to hosting receptions, conferences, weddings, banquets and all kinds of official events. The terraces and the cloister, situated at the top of the building, are also well worth visiting as they offer an outstanding view out across the Mediterranean.