The Rose of Fire. The Barcelona of Picasso and Gaudí


Ramon Casas – Scena domestica all’aperto olio su tela, anno 1892, 161x121cm. Madrid, Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza


The Rose of Fire, or rather La Rosa de Foc in Catalan, was the code name used by twentieth-century anarchists to refer to Barcelona. This name conjures up the political, social and cultural turmoil that ignited Barcelona at the turn of the century, as well as the violent bombings to which the city was subjected.
In 1888, it was the great Universal Exhibition that changed the face and history of Barcelona, introducing disruptive ideas of modernity to a capital that was still a backwater by comparison with the advanced heart of Europe. New lifestyles, new wealth and new creative visions went hand in hand with the region’s industrial and economic expansion.
During those years, night ran into day in Barcelona and the cafés and meeting places along the Ramblas and in the Barri Gótic throbbed with people and encounters. Poets, intellectuals and painters were based at Els Quatre Gats, streaming out from there to locations far and wide, often ending up in Paris.
The cultural and economic growth of the Catalan capital was accompanied by marked tensions nevertheless. In July 1909, during what would come to be known as the ‘tragic week’, this erupted into a series of violent protests and bloody repression that marked the end of this unique period. These fertile and restless years, and the colourful and full-blooded hot-bed of talent that brought them to life, have given rise to The Rose of Fire, a major event that ushers in the 2015-2016 exhibition season at the Palazzo dei Diamanti, curated by the director of the Ferrarese institution, Maria Luisa Pacelli.


Pablo Picasso – Ragazza in camicia olio su tela, anno 1904-05, 72,7×60 cm. Londra, Tate. Lascito C. Frank Stoop, 1933 © Succession Picasso, by SIAE 2015


The Rose of Fire, or the art and arts of Barcelona from 1888 to 1909, perfectly reflects the cultural mission of the Palazzo dei Diamanti: carefully chosen, in-depth and unusual exhibitions that are anything but banal. The Palazzo’s shows provide Italy with an introduction to extraordinary but rarely exhibited artists (including Reynolds, Chardin and Zurbarán, to name but a few) or to key turning-points in the history of art, seen from new perspectives.
This exhibition is no different, showing the greats of art history in a more unexpected light. This is indeed true of the young Picasso, who, while still producing his earliest works, would conquer the Catalan and Parisian art scenes in the matter of just a few years, thanks to the striking features of his precocious talent. Artists who are unknown to many, but are still responsible for works of the highest standard, also appear alongside more famous names. Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusiñol and Isidre Nonell for example, who, unlike Picasso, returned to their homeland rather than becoming stars on the Parisian stage.
This is an exhibition of powerful colours and emotions, moving, not by chance, from the kaleidoscopic palette of the late nineteenth century, to the bright and brilliant colours of the depictions of modern nightlife, finishing with the dominant blue of the exhibition’s final room. Picasso, and other restless spirits like him, chose this colour to express the pain and solitude the triumphant march of progress left in its wake.
The Rose of Fire is an exhibition that includes some wonderful paintings but also invites visitors to discover other arts: the architecture of Gaudí, of course, as well as graphic art, furniture, jewellery, ceramics and sculpture. The detail of these fields is more defined when compared to the wide range of paintings on display but offers visitors valuable insight and an understanding of how every genre of art was underscored by the same smouldering sense of renewal, without exception.



La Barcellona di Picasso e Gaudì
19th April 2015 - 19th July 2015
Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara
T. +39 0532 244949
Open daily 10.00-20.00
1th June - 17th, 18th, 19th July 10.00-23.00
The must-see exhibitions of 2015 in Italy

The must-see exhibitions of 2015 in Italy

MILAN Van Gogh “The man and the land” – Palazzo Reale – Milan–  till

LaClinique event, Lugano – Ottobre 2014

LaClinique event, Lugano – Ottobre 2014

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