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Antoni Gaudí and Eusebi Güell
Eusebi Güell Bacigalupi was the main patron of Antoni Gaudí's work, and one of his best friends. So we believe it is important to learn about the beginning and some of the basic characteristics of this relationship between two people who were different, yet, at the same time, similar-the relationship between Eusebi Güell and Antoni Gaudí.
Shortly after finishing his degree in architecture, Gaudí was asked to design a showcase to display the products of Guantería Comella (the Comella Glove Shop), of Barcelona, at the Paris World Fair in 1878. By that time, Gaudí had already worked with Professor Villar, Fontseré, the construction manager, and Joan Martorell, the architect, and had designed the Obrera Mataronense (Mataró Workers' Center) and the Kiosco Girossi (Girossi Kiosk).
Eusebi Güell (1846-1918) was the son of Joan Güell Ferrer, champion of national industry and leader of Catalonian economic thought. Eusebi inherited his father's good business sense, and so he managed and created new companies. The Güell family's good financial situation allowed the future count of Güell to study Law, Economy and Sciences in Barcelona, France, and England. He inherited his mother's taste for the arts: Don Eusebi drew and painted skillfully, liked music, understood sculpture and was familiar with European museums and monuments, since he traveled a lot.
On one of those trips, he went to the World Fair in Paris to be up to date on the latest developments in textile machines for his factories. When he passed by the Spain Pavilion, he saw a fantastic showcase: the carved oak wood coordinated perfectly with the fine forged iron and the decorative projections, which held in place the unusually placed panes of glass, which allowed for a comfortable view of the exhibited gloves.
When he reached Barcelona, he went to Esteve Comella's store to meet the creator of the marvelous display case that he had seen in Paris. There, they told him that he would find him in the workshop where it had been made: Taller Puntí (Puntí Workshop).
Eduald Puntí was a specialist in ironworks, carpentry, glassworks, and all types of arts and industrial arts in general. Gaudí often visited his shop, probably because he felt the need to be in contact with artisans, like when he was small and he saw his parents making stills, for distilling alcohol, and cauldrons.
Güell went to the shop, and there they introduced him to Gaudí. This marked the beginning of a relationship that lasted until Güell's death in 1918.
Having barely finished his Architecture degree, Gaudí was a youth that
dressed well, attended operas and concerts, and had relationships with
the most important intellectuals of the time. Perhaps he understood that
he needed a good patron that was capable of comprehending and financing
his architectural ideas. That patron turned out to be Eusebi Güell, who
always valued and praised the new architecture that Gaudí planned, paying
the bills that he received without problems. And the artist, feeling
understood and stimulated, passionately devoted himself to the assignments
which Güell entrusted to him.