Casa Convalescència

Stop 3: The central stairway

The main staircase, which is in the best state of conservation of all the building's interior areas, led to the chapel and the terraces. It is an imperial style staircase, consisting of a straight flight up to the landing, where it divides into two narrower, parallel flights. Another example, close at hand, is in the current seat of the Consell de Mallorca, the Majorca government, while further afield we can find others at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and the Art History Museum in Vienna.

The walls are coated with Baroque-style ceramics, mainly in blue, green and yellow, which are based both on those of the old 17th Century Casa de Convalescència (now home to the Institute for Catalan Studies) and on contemporary models in the style of Seville's Plaza de España: pièce de résistance of the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition. They are attributed in the literature to the painter and draughtsman Francesc Labarta i Planas (1883–1963), a member of Domènech i Montaner's team.

Moving from the bottom upward, we can classify the subject matter of the mosaics in five categories:

  • Messages promoting Christian virtues, inscribed on Italianate coats of arms. From the Middle Ages onwards, hospitals were founded mainly on the initiative of the Church, which thus fulfilled two fundamental precepts of Christian doctrine: charity ("Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself", Matthew, 22, 39) and hospitality.
  • The coats of arms of Barcelona, of Hospital de Sant Pau and of the Casa de Convalescència. The latter includes the arms of Hospital de la Santa Creu and those of the four benefactors of the old Casa de Convalescència.
  • The heraldic coats of arms of the members of the Barcelona nobility who, in the 17th Century, funded the first Casa de Convalescència in Barcelona. From left to right: Elena Soler, Lucrècia de Gualba, Pau Ferran and Victòria Astor. The greatest contribution came from Pau Ferran, whose coat of arms, with its horseshoes, is to be seen all over the building.
  • The building's inauguration date, in Roman numerals:  MCMXXX. King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the last pavilions to be built in the precincts during his visit to Barcelona in January 1930.
  • Ornamental ceramics, combined with mouldings, to fill the empty spaces between the main panels.  These include elements and compositions of Catalan Baroque ceramics, many in the form of grotesques, with plant motifs, birds, vases, flowers, fruits, shells and cherubs. It is interesting to note that the ceramicist worked with older models in mind and copied motifs from the ceramics made by Llorenç Passoles for the old Casa de Convalescència in the 17th Century.