The Art Museum displays a significant repertoire of 19thcentury European artistic movements, influenced at first by the academies and later by the most advanced tendencies. Just like in the rest of Europe, as the Baroque period was coming to a close, academic institutions took over the field and introduced Neoclassicism. In Barcelona, the art school, the Reial Acadèmia housed in La Llotja fulfilled that function. In response to that clearly elitist artistic style, Romanticism soon emerged, a new tendency that attempted to bring art in closer contact with a wider public.
However, in Catalonia, the introduction of Romanticism did not imply any significant break with the past or important innovation; it was simply an adaptation to new iconographic models. Some of the Catalan artists who received a grant to study at the Academy of Rome became familiar with the work of a group of religiously inspired Romantic artists, known as Nazarenes. One can observe their influence in the works Jacob receives his Son Joseph’s Bloody Coat, by Pelegrí Clavé; The Christian Era, by Joaquim Espalter, and Receiving Communion on the Mountain, by Marià Vayreda Vila from Olot.
In Catalonia, the transition from the academic tradition to the early stages of Romanticism occurred during the second half of the century, with the introduction of pictorial realism. While originating in France, it was introduced here by Ramon Martí Alsina, who painted the largest oil painting ever made in Catalonia, A Great Day in Girona, on view at the Former Saint Catherine’s Hospital, which is also managed by the Girona Art Museum. It’s important to place the founding of the School of Landscape Painting of Olot within the context of realism and the French plein-airmovements. The works worth highlighting from that school are Militia in Catalonia, by Josep Berga Boix, and The Harvest, by Joaquim Vayreda.
Realism also offered important views of representative sites in Catalan geography including the very city of Girona, such as The Rabassada Beach and The Ramparts Around Girona, by Modest Urgell; Figuerola Gate and the Entrance Gate to Girona, by Jaume Pons Martí, and The Small Boat. Girona, by Antonio Graner, portrays one of the meanders of the Ter River when it was still partially navigable. Regarding sculpture, Miquel Blay created a significant historical allegory with his plaster cast model Against the Invader, in memory of how the people of Girona heroically defended themselves against Napoleon’s troops in 1809.