The Eixample of Barcelona contains many monumental buildings, showing the splendor of the city in Modern Style times. Among the oldest stands the publishing house Montaner i Simó, built between 1881 and 1885.
The publishing house Montaner i Simó was founded in Barcelona i 1861 by Ramon Montaner i Vila and Francesc Simó i Font. In a short time it became the most important publishing house in Spain by the volume of production, the quantity of workers and the quality of its publications. It became the leading publisher of publications in America.
Industrial Revolution everywhere
Due to the use of new reproduction and mechanization systems, they achieved very accurate, artistic and luxurious results.
The growth of production pushed Ramon Montaner to commission, in 1879, the construction of a new building. The architect chosen was his own nephew, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, who built one of the first examples of modernist buildings in Barcelona.
The building was a combination of exposed brick and iron. It has a basement for industrial machinery, a first floor for offices and a second floor for sketchers and engravers, to which the large amount of natural light coming in for the skylight was excellent.
Reading the façade
The façade, more than an industrial building, resembles a bourgeois mansion, combining classical and Muslim influences, unpolished brick with arabesque geometry.
At the top of the façade, an elm and the trumpeter angel refer to the cover of the Golden Book of modern catalan Poetry, of 1878. The elm refers to Catalonia as a nation and the angel with the trumpet announces novelty, a new book.
Under the trumpeter angel are the busts of Dante Aligheri, Miguel Cervantes and John Milton. They are accompanied by four plates that show the names of those who used printing techniques to print their books.
The gearwheels are a symbol fo the Industrial Revolution. The central wheel has a crowned eagle on an open book.
The family-owned business was acquired in 1956 by an individual who had been a publishing house correspondent in Latin America, but closed in 1981.
A sculpture, Cloud and Chair, by Antoni Tàpies, was installed on the facade of the building, because since 1990 the building houses the foundation dedicated to this artist. The works to prepare the building for this new use were directed by the architects Roser Amadó and Lluís Domènech Girbau.
You can see this building very close to Casa Batlló on our tour of Paseo de Gracia or during your visit to the Tapies Foundation.