The Casa Museu Amatller, the fascinating house promoted by the chocolate maker Antoni Amatller, shows some of the characteristics of the architecture of Catalan Modernism. In its spaces we see the medieval inspiration, the use of materials such as stucco or tiles and a large ornamental display, which in most cases takes as a reference to the natural world.

In addition, Casa Museu Amatller, more than a conventional dwelling, appears as a total work of art. In its construction, the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch had artists and craftsmen at his service to complete the decoration of Antoni Amatller’s house.

One of the artists who worked with Puig i Cadafalch was the sculptor Eusebi Arnau, the most outstanding of Catalan Modernism. He was in charge of sculpting an entire complex sculptural programme, with multiple figures full of meaning. In another article and we had commented how the façade of the Casa Museu Amatller presented a careful symbolism aimed at showing passers-by who Antoni Amatller and his family were. Therefore, the reliefs and statues had a lot to say.

Today we want to explain to you how the Casa Museu Amatller has a large number of animal figures inside, on its façade and in the hall. Are you coming to see them all?

Animals in the decoration of the façade of Casa Amatller

Let’s start at the foot of the street, looking at the spectacular façade of Casa Amatller with its incredible stepped triangular pediment. Let’s look at the balcony on the main floor. Here we find capitals with animals performing human actions. The activities of these figures respond to the symbols on the coats of arms found on the lintels of the balcony windows.

In the left window, the capitals show some rabbits working with iron and some monkeys using the anvil, symbol of the industry; in the central window we can see some dogs with a camera of photos of the time and some donkeys with books, reading glasses and Cervantine lechuguilla, that represent the arts and the photography; finally, in the right window some piglets manipulate the ceramics and some frogs are with the blown glass, symbolizing the activity of Antoni Amatller as collector of glass of the Antiquity.

Around the entrance door to the building there are two lions supporting the coat of arms that shows a “1900”, the year the Casa Amatller was completed; and a capital where a gypsy controls a bear with a rope.

Detail of the façane of Casa Amatller © Gabriele Merolli

Animals in the lobby of Casa Amatller

If we advance towards the interior, in the vestibule we have a series of figures with the body of a person and the head of an animal (birds, squirrels, monkey, frog…). They are in charge of making chocolate, the origin of the Amatller family’s fortune, in their processes: from collecting the cocoa to placing the chocolate on the bar.

There are more animals in the space that illuminates the incredible stained glass window. A parrot at the foot of the staircase holds the Amatller coat of arms with its beak. And if we go up the steps we reach the entrance door to the main floor, with two small animals on the sides, which sound their instruments to welcome us.

Detail of the lobby of Casa Amatller © Gabriele Merolli

The animals inside the Casa Museu Amatller

Inside home of the Amatller family we can discover more animals, all with a meaning that has to be read in function of the values associated to the dynasty of chocolatiers or to the person who inhabits each room. For example, on one of the dining room doors there is a spider that is going to eat a fly that has fallen into the web. It is a symbol of the collection of profits, of the reward for having invested time in work that bears fruit in the long term.

Entering into the private part of the house we will see animals at the entrance door of Teresa Amatller’s bedroom: accompanying a woman who sews, a cat appears playing with a ball and a dog. They are symbols of fidelity, a virtue that was expected for a woman of the time.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the house, the access to Antoni Amatller’s bedroom is flanked by two groups of sculptures: a heron with a bag of money, representing the control of the economy exercised by the patron of the home; and a pair of owls, symbol of the constant vigilance required to make profits in his company.

A spider with a fly in the dining room of Casa Amatller © Gabriele Merolli

Monkeys, spiders, bears, lions, cats, dogs, birds…an enormous zoo world unfolds throughout Casa Amatller and is perfectly represented in the sculptures of the modernist artist Eusebi Arnau. On another occasion we will have to stop at all the fantastic animals that we meet on the visit, such as dragons. What have you also noticed?

Meanwhile, we would love for you to visit the Casa Museu Amatller and marvel at all the animals that live in the modernist house. Choose your entrance here and your way of visiting!