The story of the disappeared lamp of Casa Batlló seems a bit far-fetched and inspired by a fictional scenario but everything is totally true.
Casa Batlló is one of the most famous Gaudí’s buildings in Barcelona. Created between 1904 and 1906, it stands in the noble Paseo de Gràcia as one of the unmissable landmarks of the Catalan capital. Josep Batlló I Casanovas was a rich textile industrialist who lived there with its family. The main living room of the house was where the most important events would take place and a fabulous glass lamp would hang from the ceiling. After having disappeared for decades it has been finally found and the story behind the discovery is quite unreal.
The last witness of the disappeared lamp of Casa Batlló
Who would be a better witness than one Casa Batlló’s occupant to tell the story of the lamp?
Certainly Mrs. Marimon. Her husband was one of Batlló’s grandchildren and was the last person living in the house. Few months before her death, she granted an interview to Ana Atance (coordinator of the interventions made in Casa Batlló since 1995) in which she mentioned the vanished lamp. Mrs Marimon’s sister-in-law lived next door to her and she believed her relatives had kept the lamp in a box.
She told that when her sister-in-law died, her children found the lamp in a suitcase after emptying the floor. However, they had no recollection of what they did with it.
In an interview for El País, Mrs Atance explained to a group of tourists: “We talked with the family and we located it disassembled, with the metal ring and the internal structure on one side and some elements like the small tears in a cardboard box. The rest was quite ordered by size, inside a leather suitcase “.
Atance’s team did not know what to expect, whether to find it in one piece or damaged due to its large size. Fortunately, everything was fine. They found various bits and strips with 3,000 glass tears that they measured and kept in an inventory. Few tears were missing and the lamp was complete at 90%. They were sure of one thing: that the glass lamp used to hang from the plaster snail on the ceiling in the living room.
They finally cleaned and assembled the brass structure and the pieces of glass altogether on silver wires. As the ceramic caps were damaged they had to replaced and rewired in order to comply with safety regulations. Keeping the parabolic shape, the monumental lamp is a masterpiece measuring 99 cms in diameter and 68 cms in height and weighs about 65 kilos.
A not so Gaudian piece
Although Gaudi always felt the need to control his creations, Atance believes that the lamp is not from the architect. She explains: “It is an imperial-style lamp that was made back then in northern France or southern Germany, but we do not know who the designer is. What Gaudí did with it was to strengthen its conch shell. I do not know if he made it to measure, but I suppose so, “. She regrets the scarcity of the documentation on the house. This makes it difficult to confirm that Gaudí had designed the lamp. However, old pictures helped verifying the coincidences between the original and the new lamp.