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Els Quatre Gats–Casa Martí
Els Quatre Gats–Casa Martí Review
Built by Josep Puig i Cadafalch in 1896 for the Martí family, this Art Nouveau house and the legendary hangout of Moderniste illuminati, a three-minute walk from the cathedral, holds the Quatre Gats café and restaurant, a good place for a coffee or even a meal. The exterior is richly decorated with Eusebi Arnau sculptures, featuring the scene of St. George and the dragon that no Puig i Cadafalch project ever failed to include. Arnau (1864–1934) was the sculptor darling of the Moderniste movement. The interior is spectacularly hung with reproductions of some famous Ramon Casas paintings, such as the scene of the Toulouse Lautrec–ish Casas and the rangy tavernkeeper Pere Romeu comedically teamed up on a tandem bicycle—one of Barcelona's most iconic images. The Josep Llimona sculpture of St. Joseph and the Infant Jesus gleaming whitely over St. George and the dragon was torn down in the anticlerical violence of July 1936 and restored in 2000. Picasso had his first opening here on February 1, 1900; the café was a showcse for Moderniste painters from Casas and Russinyol to Nonell and Anglada Camarasa, so the creative reverberations ought to be strong. Quatre Gats means "four cats" in Catalan, a euphemism for "hardly anybody," but the original four—Casas, Russinyol, and Utrillo, hosted by Pere Romeu—were all definitely somebodies.
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