Vertical panels in the Church of Montserrat.
Riquer’s first known foray into interior decoration is of considerable
importance, since it was no more and no less than the decoration of the
Hotel International built by
Domènech i Montaner
for the World’s Fair of 1888 held in Barcelona. This work was a miracle of
the constructive capacity of its architect, and the interior decoration in
which Riquer played an active role displayed luxury and good taste.
Unfortunately, the hotel was destroyed at the end of the World’s Fair
because it had been built in only a provisional manner, despite the fact
that very elaborate techniques went into its construction and that it had
been built on land donated specifically for it. For this reason, few images
of the hotel survive today.
Also during this period, at
request Riquer designed the monumental fireplace and chimney of the
Apse panels in Montserrat:
From 1896 to 1897, Riquer decorated
of the apse at the church of the monastery of Montserrat (the patron saint
of Catalonia), which he had been commissioned for in 1894. Although he
completed this work with the collaboration of other artists belonging to the
Artistic Circle of Saint Luke, these years belong to a period in which
Riquer’s work evolved differently from that of his colleagues and in which
he immersed himself completely in the Art Nouveau aesthetic. According to
Eliseu Trenc, these constituted Riquer’s most successful works.
Teresa Macià i Bigorra describes these paintings of Riquer in the following
manner: the six large paintings in the apse are symmetrically arranged,
three by three, on each side of the alcove, permitting sight of the image of
the Mother of God from throughout the church.
The two side panels are twice as wide (12mx6m) as the four Art Nouveau
panels that complete the apse (12mx3m). These four central panels are by
Alexandre de Riquer. Riquer depicts on two of the large canvases a vegetable
motif, in which the stylized nature from the same roots evolves and threads
its way up to touch the sun, representing a dual symbol: the sun-cross.
Among the branches and the winding leaves, Riquer has placed the coats of
arms of Montserrat and of Catalonia, and of the Church and of the
Benedictines, respectively. The background is of a uniform dark color. The
composition is organized in an ascendant manner.
In the other two panels Riquer has placed two groups of winged female
figures. These two vertical and ascendant compositions feature at least
twenty full-length angels – representations of the ideal of female beauty
typical of the age – and about fifteen smaller angels, showing only their
heads and wings from a higher angle. The background is bluish.
Two images of the presbytery
at the Church of Montserrat
of the Art
In 1897, Riquer decorated the interior of the Alomar house, the most
distinctive elements of which were six panels representing the four seasons
and the two allegories of
(now part of
a private collection).
In 1900, he completed the decoration of the pharmacy belonging to his
on the Nou de la Rambla street in Barcelona, collaborating with Gaspar Homar
on the marquetry and with Granell on the stained glasses.
One of the most spectacular creations of this period was Riquer’s design for
the Circle of the Liceu (located in the same building as Barcelona’s opera
house/theatre) in 1900. He created lamps combining wood, metal, and enamel
that represent some of his most delicate work. They can still be seen in all
their splendor in the same place for which Riquer designed them.
In his work for the Liceu, Riquer collaborated with artisans such as Gaspar
Homar, who made the furnishings, and A. Rigalt for the glass work, as well
as the industrial tile manufacturer Escofet and others.
In the same year, he completed the decoration of the
Institute of Terrassa,
and despite the fact that the female nudes in his paintings represented the
textile industry and commerce, they were rejected by the chairman for being
too daring. The commission was later completed by Joaquim Vancells. Riquer’s
original paintings can today be seen at the Casa Museu Alegre de Sagrera in
Terrassa (Vallès Occidental).
He also decorated the Café Català in collaboration with the Vives brothers,
the Maison Dorée in 1903, and the Catalan Cattle Market in 1905.
Decorative panel for the
Industrial Institute of Terrassa (now at the Museu Alegre de Sagrera)*
doors, decorative panels, sconces and floor mosaics.
Marquetry, "Botany" and "Medicine"
at the Grau Ynglada Pharmacy (no longer extant)
and interior decoration of the Grau Ynglada Pharmacy
Catalan Cattle Market