Recently we have visited the city of Lleida in search of two stained glass windows made in the 50’s in our workshop. Although the J.M. Bonet workshop has its origins in the province of Lleida, it is not as a bishopric where the company’s largest projects have taken place. The discovery of documentation in the company’s archive uncovered two works of which we had no news, the rose of the parish of the Mare de Deu del Carme and according to the documentation a triptych with angels in the chapel of the school of the Sagrat Cor. As part of our work as stained glass, we spend part of our time searching for the stained glass that we have been making and very often we find surprises that were not in the archive, others that were there but that predate the activity of the workshop and therefore cannot be attributed to us.
The founder of the Bonet workshop was Josep Maria Bonet(La Seu d’Urgell, 1903 – Barcelona, 1988) was a master glassmaker in the first half of the twentieth century. He was co-founder of the workshop that bears his name together with his brother Xavier Bonet (1897-1985) and that is still in full activity. The family has ancient roots in the village ofArsèguel, inAlt Urgell. When he was very young, Bonet studied in Barcelona at the Llotja School, where he became friends with artists with whom he would later collaborate in the field of stained glass (such as Montsardà, Labarta and Comaleran) and later learned the craft at the Oriach stained glass workshop, where his brother was already working.
They established the workshop at number 6 of Astúries street in the neighborhood of Gràcia, where it is currently located. His first works were by the artist Daríus Vilàs and the architect Josep Maria Pericas, the stained glass windows of the parish of Carme in Barcelona, and the parish of Sant Joan in Reus, and the stained glass windows of the crypt of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The workshop worked on the production of leaded glass, its restoration and engraved glass. The workshop was collectivized during the civil war and both J.M. Bonet and Xavier Bonet devoted themselves to other professional activities. At the end of the war the workshop concentrated on the reconstruction of temples destroyed during the war. J.M.Bonet worked on the stained glass windows of the chapter house of the monastery of Poblet, on the stained glass windows of the monasteries of Vallbona de les Monges and Santes Creus, on the stained glass windows of Santa Maria de les Avellanes, on the parish church of Sant Joan de Lleida, on the stained glass windows of the Cathedral of Sant Feliu de Llobregat, according to drawings by Francesc Labarta and on the parishes of Jesús and Sant Joan de Gràcia. He also worked with architect JosepMaria Jujol in the parishes of Santa Maria de Vilanova i la Geltrú and Sant Joan Despí. Xavier Bonet began new business ventures and finally left his posts at the glass company, which remained in the hands of Josep Maria Bonet.
Towards the 60s, a new era began in which the stained glass was again an artistic field with its own discourse and worked with the artists WillFaber in the stained glass windows of the creuer of the church of Llars Mundet, with Ramon Rogent in the stained glass windows of the chapel of l’Església de les Llars Mundet, with Ramon Rogent in the stained glass windows of the chapel of l’Església de l’Església de les Llars Mundet.
Hospital de Granollers, the parish of Rubí, in the stained glass windows of Domènech Fita for the Cathedral of Girona and with Carles Madiroles for the Carmelites of Vic. Josep Maria Bonet was awarded the title of mestre artesà vitrallerà in 1986. I died in Barcelona in 1988.
The stained glass windows to which we refer have in common having been designed by the artist Rafael Caseres. The Bonet workshop worked in the middle of the twentieth century maintaining a scrupulous division of the tasks performed by each artisan in the construction process. There was the designer who made initial drawings following the client’s indications, the stained glass painter who was responsible for adapting the drawing to the natural size and deciding where each of the pieces would be carved, the technician who made the templates for each piece of glass, the one who carved them so that they could be painted and taken by the glass painter, the glassmaker who leaded the glass, fitting the glass into the lead strips and even two more specialized glassmakers in two final stages of finishing. For many years one of the project designers was this artist, whose extensive work in stained glass is preserved in the Centre de Documentació i Museu de les Arts Escèniques (Documentation Center and Museum of Performing Arts). Here you can find elaborated scenographic projects, costume designs and even posters. Some more brief reference to his career in the artistic circuit appears in the magazine Arts i Bells Oficis where, after a collective exhibition at the Laietanes galleries, they say of him: ”
Rafael Caseres presents himself here as an illustrator as rich in fantasy as in detail. The coloration of his very modern drawings and the purity of the clean lines, derive from the English illustration passed on”.
We can still find a review by M. Rodriguez Codolà in 1931 citing the author as a prominent illustrator of the artistic group “Uns Quants” where the painter Gimeno also belonged.
The artist died in the summer of 1989 at the age of 85 according to the obituary of La Vanguardia. Many projects have been preserved in the workshop, such as Sant Joan de Reus, Santa Maria de les Avellanes, and the Angels Parish in Barcelona. He is also a hard-working professional dedicated with heart and soul to his art.
Central part of the project of the stained glass windows of the Parròquia dels Àngels de Barcelona.
From the stained glass windows made by J.M.Bonet in Lleida we find a triptych with angels designed by Caseres and painted by the stained glass painter Gavaldà, built in 1955 at the Col-legi Sagrat Cor. This artisan was an independent stained glass painter who worked from one workshop to another. He is recognized in the workshops as a very technical and political painter, although unfortunately there are not many documents to prove it. A reproduction of an engraving by Dürer, painted and signed by him, is kept in the workshop.
Miracle de San Humbert. Stained glass painted by Gavaldà.
Unfortunately the church of the Col-legi del Sagrat Cor is currently deconsecrated and in our visit to the city we have visited the space of the old church that preserves the plant but we have not been able to find the stained glass. In the archive we find several projects of Caseres with angels that could be similar to the lost stained glass, although we may never know how the stained glass Gavaldà would have painted it.
Project by Rafael Caseres.
The second building we visited was the Parròquia del Carme on Rambla de Ferran. The current building was built after the civil war by 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 we were contacted in search of more documents about the stained glass windows which is signed at the bottom right. The workshop documentation states that the stained glass was made in 1961.
Vitrall of the parròquia del Carme. Photograph of the same parish church.
The window has a diameter of almost 4 meters, it is mounted on a t-iron frame that divides the surface into 12 panels. The stained glass is painted profusely and all the fishes without exception have been worked with grisaille, this is common to the figurative stained glass projected during those years. Characteristic of Rafael Caseres is the perimetral outline of almost all of the fish. This gives an air of modernity to the stained glass and distances it from realistic representations, bringing it closer to the world of illustration. The scene represented is the apparition of the Virgin of Carme to Simo Stock, in which this monk receives the scapulars of the order.
The stained glass is in a very good state of conservation with some small alterations very common of the stained glass of this period: small accidental fractures in the glass pieces and the cracking of some grayscale. The original project has not been preserved.
The stained glass windows are sometimes a part of the heritage a bit forgotten and mistreated, both by those in charge of heritage management and by historians. But they are full of unique details that make them very special and that we hope to be able to show you more and more, explaining more about how they are made and how they are made, by whom and how they are made to help these objects to be more valued. The windows of the Catalan bisbats have a millenary history of
the one that the vitralls that have been made in the recent past or of those that we make today are hereus.
Ràfols, J.F.. Biographical Dictionary of Artists of Catalonia (in Spanish). Barcelona: Editorial Millà, 1951.
“The match between champions”. La Vanguardia (June 30, 1923)
“Xavier Bonet, current captain of CD Europa”. El Mundo Deportivo
(August 28th, 1922)
“Talking with Javier Bonet”. El Mundo Deportivo (August 24, 1925)
El martiri dels temples a la diòcesi de Barcelona (1936-1939) / Josep M. Martí i Bonet Arxiu Diocesu Diocesà de Barcelona, 2008.
Article d’Eugeni D’Ors a la Vanguardia del 1954.
web del center de documentació i
Art i Bells oficis. Promotion of decorative arts. 1931
La Vanguardia Diumenge 27 d’Agost de 1985.
La Vanguardia. Page 5. Sunday April 12, 1931