255 - CAMARON I BORONAT, Josep; MOLES I CORONES, Pere Pasqual; SANCHA, Antonio de
The work of Antoni de Capmany. The Memorias históricas sobre la marina, comercio y artes de la Antigua ciudad de Barcelona was written by Antoni de Capmany commissioned by the Barcelona Junta de Comercio and published in Madrid between 1779 and 1792. The work, considered a classic of the Catalonian historiography, studied in detail the history of maritime commerce, Barcelona industry and its institutions. The meticulous edition of the four volumes undertaken by the printer Antonio de Sancha included some engravings at the beginning of the chapters and decorated capital letters.
Illustrations by recognised artists. The group of illustrative artists whose works are contained in the book can be considered to be a small selection of the most relevant painters and engravers of the time. All the engravings, including the capital letters, were the work of the well-known Pasqual Pere Moles i Corona (1741-1797), the first director of the free Drawing School created by the Junta de Comercio, the entity that financed the work and which also met the costs of his engraver’s studio in Paris between 1766 and 1774. As for the drawings, we find two designs by Antonio Carnicero ( 1748-1814) from Madrid, two more by the Pere Pau Muntanya (1849-1903) from Barcelona – a reference of Catalan baroque – and one by Josep Camarón (1731-1803) from Valencia.
The allegories of the city and of commerce. Three of the prints are allegories of the city and commerce. The first, which heads the first chapter of the work is the drawing by José Camarón. It represents the young Mercury (protector of trade) with Mars (god of war) who are leaning on the city’s coat of arms and stepping on flags with the image of a half moon. In the background, boats in the port and a clear image of the Royal Dockyards appear. The same mythological characters, this time talking, also appear in one of the two drawings by Pere Pau Mutanya. The frame is again the city’s port, also with the dockyards in the background and the sea wall (nº 255 and 257). The last allegory is that drawn by the painter Antonio Carnicero. In this composition, some cherubims (puttis) are playing with elements showing the productive riches of the city, either agricultural (fruit) or artisanal (loom, saws, anvils). In the centre, a feminine figure, whose attributes do not make her easily identifiable, supports the city coats of arms (nº 256).
Views of the port and the city. The other two engravings, rather than allegories, are representations of the trade in the city’s port. One of them,that by Antonio Carnicero, is really little identifiable with Barcelona. In the foreground, there is a scene in which goods are being unloaded on the dock, however the majestic building that appears in the background does not correspond to the city of Barcelona (nº258). To the contrary, the drawing of Pere Pau Muntanya, although also idealised, is somewhat more precise. In this case, the view is from what appears to be the shore at the foot of Montjuïc, where there are fishermen. The port lighthouse and numerous boats entering and leaving the dock stand out. In the background, the new district of Barceloneta is represented, with the church of Sant Miquel standing out above the low houses (nº 259).