Antoni Guadi i Cornet.
1852-1926

Born in 1852 in Reus (Camp de Tarragona) and son of a copper maker from Riudoms, from childhood Gaudí was an attentive observer of nature and felt attracted to its forms, colours and geometry. In 1868, he decided to study architecture in Barcelona , in a college dominated by neo-classical and romantic trends. Thus, his first architectural production swung between a reinterpretation of historical canons with oriental influence and the recovery of medievalevents. Despite his youth he received the first assignments from the ecclesiastic world and the bourgeoisie, who would always be his main clients. Among these, the Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph stands out as they commissioned him with the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Família (the cathedral of the modern Barcelona ). Of equal importance was the industrialist Eusebi Güell, the best client and essential patron, who entrusted him with the construction of a palace, the church for an industrial colony, some pavilions for his summer residence and a city-garden.

             

It appears that Gaudí achieved his greatest fame and renown in 1910, gaining the attention of some Americans who asked him to build a hotel in New York. An exhibition on Gaudí's work, promoted by Eusebi Güell, was held in the Grand Palais in Paris, from April to June of 1910, and some of the plans and photographs exhibited there were also taken a year later to the I Salón de Arquitectura (First Annual Architecture Show) in Madrid. 

In 1911, he had Maltesefever, and stayed for a time in Puigcerda, where his condition worsened and, believing his time had come, he made out his will. To the day of his death, he worked exclusively on the Sagrada Família, and in 1925 moved his residence to the studio he had on the premises.

   

Old Gaudí and his death

In his old age, Gaudí was a man that was conformed with little and dressed without much care; so much so that the day of his accident nobody recognized him as he lay on the ground. On June 7, 1926, he was run over by a tram at the intersection of Carrer de Bailén and the Gran Vía, and the taxi drivers refused to take a poor vagabond to the hospital(the municipal police fined them later for not assisting an injured man). He did not seek out contact with journalistsand he avoided cameras, so there are few photographs of the architect.

This change in attitude may have been caused by a series of events that took place beginning in 1912. That year, hisniece, Rosa Egea, who lived with him in Barcelona, died. In 1914, his faithful collaborator, Francesc Berenguer Mestres,died, and for matters of professional fees, he was confronted with the Milà family in litigation. In 1915, the continuity of the construction of the Sagrada Familia was endangered by a serious economic crisis. En 1914, construction of the Colonia Güell was definitively interrupted. Two years later, his friend, Doctor Torras i Bages, Archbishop of Vic, died. In 1918, his best friend and patron, Eusebi Güell, passed away. They were sad events that affected him but did not limit his energy and desire to see his greatest work, the Sagrada Família, come into being.

Gaudí died at the age of 74 (June 12, 1926), but if it hadn't been for the tram he may have lived many more years, since his father had lived to the age of 93, with all his vigor. Half of Barcelona dressed in black to give final homage to a man that had become very popular, although few had ever met him personally. His body was buried in the crypt of the edifice where he had worked for the last 43 years of his life, the Sagrada Familia. After his death in 1926, he and his work entered a period of ostracism until the avant-gardist trends and the international movement recuperated his figure while presenting him as an example of modernisation and renewal of 20th century architecture.

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Sent in by L Stephens. Wales.

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