We visited the city of Lerida recently looking for two stained glasses made during the 50´s in our workshop. Although the J.M. Bonet workshop has its origins in the province, it is not where the largest projects were developed as a company.
The discovery of documents in the company´s files uncovered two jobs which we had not news about, the rose window of the parish of the Mother of God of Carmen and according to the documentations a triptych with angels in the chapel of the school of the Holy Heart. Within our work we dedicate part of the time documenting the work we have done and often we find surprises that were not on the files and others that are attributed to us but they are predate to the workshop activity and therefore cannot being attributed to us.
The beginning of Vitralls Bonet
The founder of Bonet´s workshop was Josep Maria Bonet (La Seu d´Urgell, 1903 – Barcelona, 1988) who was the master glassmaker during the first half of the twentieth century. He co-founded the workshop that bears his name along with his brother, Javier Bonet (1897-1985) and still maintains in full swing. The family has ancient roots in the village of Arsèguel, in Alt Urgell. Very young, Bonet studied in Barcelona in Llotja School, where he became friends with artists with whom later he build collaborations in the field of the stained windows (as Montsardà, Labarta and Comaleran) and later he learned the trade in the workshop of the glazier Oriach, where his brother was already working.
They set up the workshop in the 6th of Asturias Street of Grácia, where it remains today. Their first works were hand with the artist Darius Vilàs and the architect Josep Maria Pericas, the stained glasses of the Carme´parish of Barcelona, the Parish of Sant Joan de Reus and the stained windows of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The workshop worked in the realization of stained glass windows, in its restauration and taxed glass. The workshop has collectivized during the civil war and both J.M. and Javier Bonet moved to other professional activities.
Stained glass in the Post-War
After the war, the workshop focused in the reconstruction of temples destroyed during the war. J.M. Bonet worked in the windows of the Chapterhouse of Poblet Monastery, in the windows of the monastery of Vallbona de las Monjas, in the windows of Santa María de las Avellanas, in Sant Joan de Lleida, in the Cathedral of San Feliu de Llobregat according to draws of Francesc Labarta and parishes of Santa María de Vilanova I la Geltrú and the ones in Sant Joan Despí. Javier Bonet started new business adventures and he finally left his charges in the stained glass company to Jose María.
By the 60s, it began a new time when the stained glass window was a new artistic field with an own discourse and he worked with the artists Will Faber in the stained windows of the transept of the church of Mundet homes, with the artist Ramón Rogent in the stained windows of Domenech Fita for the Cathedral of Girona. With Carles Madiroles in the Carmelitas of Vic. José María Bonet received the letter of master glassmaker in 1986. He died in Barcelona in 1988.
Collaborations with Rafael Caseres
The stained windows we referred have in common that they have been designed by the artist Rafael Caseres. Is working in Bonet´s workshop during the 50´s maintaining a scrupulous division of the labour performed by each craftsman in the construction process. There were projectors who made the initial draws according to consumer specifications, the pintro stained glass, which was the responsible to adapt the drawing life-size and decide where they would cut each of the pieces, the technician who made the templates of each piece, the one who fitted the lead strips and even two more specialized glassmakers in the two final stages.
For many years, one of the projectors was this artist who in addition to his extensive work in the stained glass, there are news about his work as a set designed and costume designed at the Documentation Centre for the Performing Arts are preserved.
There are stenographic projects, figurines designs and even posters. Some other news within the artistic circuit picks the magazine “Arts I Bells Oficis” following the collective exhibition in Laietanes galleries in 1931. “Rafael Caseres is presented here such a rich fantasy illustrator and detail. The collaboration of his ultra-modern drawings and purity of his clean lines derived from the English illustration.
A critique of M.Rodriguez Codolà from 1931 also appeared citing the author as a remarked illustrator in the artistic aggrupation “Uns Quants” who also belonged to the painter Gimeno.
The artist died the summer of 1989 at the age of 85 years old. In the workshop are retained many projects, such as the one in Sant Joan de Reus, in Santa Maria de les Avellanes, and in the Angels Parish of Barcelona. He is also remembered as a laborious professional and dedicated body and soul to his arts.
From the stained windows made by J.M. Bonet in Lerida, we found the following references. In 1955 the ones from the school Sagrat Cor, a triptych with angels designed by Casered and painted by Gavaldà. This was an autonomous stained glass painter who worked from one workshop to another. He was recognized within the glassmakers world as a very technical and detailed painter, although about him are preserved only very few documents or moral memory. In the J.M. Bonet workshop a reproduction of an engraving of Durero painted and signed by him are preserved.
The Church of the Sagrado Corazón School is currently deconsecrated and in our visit to the town, we visited the space of the old church, which the plant is conserved, but not the stained window. In the file we found many projects of Caseres with angels that could be similar to the lost stained window but maybe we will never know how they could be painted by the stained glass painter Gavaldà.
The second building we visited was the Parish of Carmen in the Rambla de Ferran. The current building was built after de Civil War by the architect Gabino Lagarriga in 1959. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the church, a book about the history of the temple was published and they contacted us in search of more documents about the vitrals, which are signed in the lower right. In the workshop documentation is mentioned that is has to be commissioned in 1961.
The stained window has a diameter of almost 4 meters, it is mounted on a T iron frame which divides the surface into 12 panels, it is ornately painted and all pieces without exception are worked with grisaille. This is common in the windows projected over the years. Is Rafael Caseres´ characteristic of the perimeter profiling almost every piece. This gives an air of modernity to the stained glasses and put them away from realistic representations putting it closed to the illustration world. The represented scene is the appearance of the Virgin to Simon Stock, where this monk received the scapular of the order.
The window is in good condition with some minor common alteration in the work of this time: small accidental breakage of glass parts or crackle of some grisaille. It has not been preserved the original project.
The stained windows are sometimes part of a little neglected and abused heritage by both, the managers of the heritage and by historians. They are full of unique features that make them very special and we hope to spread slowly, explaining details of how they were developed and produced, who makes and how to get the value that we believe they should have. The stained glasses of the Catalan bishoprics have an almost ancient history and our current works are their heirs.
Part of the article appeared in the journal Taüll #44