Their Origin

Many Modernist elements in Casa Burés were hidden under layer upon layer of paint, particularly in the Burés Residences. 

The Burés Residences contains the Hansel and Gretel room, the Louis XV room and the chapel, which stand out for their great artistic quality, the level of detail in their finishes and the wide range of materials used. 

The Hansel and Gretel room takes its name from the opera of the same name by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck, who was very popular during this period. Its most noticeable feature is a fireplace decorated with a scene from Hansel and Gretel. The fireplace was originally decorated with wood and brass features, as well as a mosaic made with thousands of tiny tesserae. The wood features on the fireplace were created by Gaspar Homar, one of the Catalan Modernist movement’s most prominent furniture designers and decorators. 

The chapel was made of fine, expensive materials such as marble and gold leaf

The chapel (or oratory) in the Burés Residences is just the kind of distinctive feature sought by the families who built these palatial homes in the early 20th century. It was also made of fine, expensive materials such as marble and gold leaf. Some of the features in the chapel were stolen, but the mahogany frame representing two archangels in profile is still intact. The chapel initially boasted a triptych of the Virgin Mary by the sculptor Juan Riera, but this feature has been lost. All the carpentry work in the chapel, most notably the entrance doorframe decorated with angel reliefs, was done by Casas i Bardés, a Catalan cabinetry company involved in decorating renowned Modernist buildings such as Casa Amatller, Casa Calvet and Casa Batlló. The original wooden parquet floors, skirting boards and some doors are also by Casas i Bardés. 

However, with its more classical and Rococo Louis XV style, the Louis XV room is the most different of the three. It features many French references and is dedicated to music and dance. 

The restoration process

The rooms have been returned to their former glory by the restoration team

Gisela Bosom, a restorer at Taller ProArtis Conservació Restauració, was commissioned to recover the original Modernist artwork hidden under layer upon layer of paint. The workshop restored different rooms in Casa Burés to their original glory. The work focused on the Hansel and Gretel room, the Louis XV room, the chapel and the polychrome ceilings on the second and third floors. 

The original Modernist aesthetics of the Hansel and Gretel room were recovered. Modernist artists of this period stretched their creativity to absolute limits to deliver marvellous pieces regardless of the material used. For them, all materials were valid if well crafted. 

Mahogany, plaster, stained glass windows, oil on canvas, Roman mosaic floors and brass reliefs: all these materials were treated equally. ProArtis reproduced the brass elements on the fireplace that dominates the room, which were probably lost when Casa Burés was looted. 

ProArtis also restored the original paintings in the Louis XV room. “When we first stepped foot in Casa Burés, that room was green. We saw it was a repaint and was undoubtedly hiding a more elaborate polychrome work that could be recovered”, explained Bosom. “It was very painstaking work, as we needed to remove the repainted layers without damaging the original polychrome decoration, which was very delicate”. When they eventually got to the original polychrome work, they saw a wide range of colours and three types of gilt. 

The restorer

Gisela Bosom is an art historian with over 25 years experience restoring artwork. Over the years, she has been involved in renovation work on Modernist buildings such as Casa de les Punxes, built by Puig i Cadafalch, and has restored elements made by the same craftsmen who worked on Casa Burés. 

She restored medieval and Baroque altarpieces, such as those created by Agustí Pujol and Andreu Sala in Sant Vicenç de Sarrià parish church, and took part in the reconstruction of the Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Cercle del Liceu in Barcelona. 

She carried out conservation work on the paintings in the “Rotonda” room by Ramon Casas and “La Peixera” room. For years, she has worked with the Art Museum of the Abbey of Montserrat on the restoration of works by painters such as Salvador Dalí, Santiago Rusiñol, Joaquim Mir and Joaquín Torres García. She has also worked on pieces from their Egyptian and Greco- Roman collections. She was involved in restoring wall paintings at Pedralbes Palace and items in the collection of the Barcelona Decorative Arts Museum.