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Berenguer: Gaudí's Right Hand

Francesc Berenguer’s role in Gaudí’s work and the Moderniste movement, despite his leaving architecture school prematurely to work for Gaudí, was significant (if not decisive), and has been much debated by architects and Art Nouveau scholars. If Barcelona was Gaudí’s grand canvas, Gràcia was Berenguer’s. Though he was not legally licensed to sign his projects, Berenguer is known to have designed nearly every major building in Gràcia, including the Mercat de la Llibertat. The house at Carrer de l’Or 44 remains one of his greatest achievements, a vertical tour de force with pinnacles at the stress lines over rich stacks of wrought-iron balconies. The Gràcia Town Hall in Plaça Rius i Taulet and the Centre Moral Instructiu de Gràcia at Carrer Ros de Olano 9 are confirmed as his; the buildings on Carrer Gran de Gràcia at Nos. 15, 23, 35, 49, 51, 61, 77, and 81 are all either confirmed or suspected Berenguer designs. Even Gaudí’s first domestic commission, Casa Vicens, owes its palm-leaf iron fence to Berenguer. When Berenguer died young in 1914, at the age of 47, Gaudí said he had "lost his right hand." Indeed, in his last 12 years, Gaudí worked on nothing but the Sagrada Família and, in fact, made little progress there.

Updated: 2014-05-16

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