'Abandoned Palace / Interior of Víznar Palace', by Santiago Rusiñol

Works: Abandoned Palace / Interior of Víznar Palace, by Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931)

Date: 1898

Technique: Oil on canvas

Dimensions:75 x 100 cm / 124 x 118 cm

Collection: Santiago Rusiñol Collection. Museu Cau Ferrat, inventory nos.: 30,265 and 30,783

Description and historic background:

The paintings from the Víznar series

Santiago Rusiñol went on his third trip to Granada in December 1897, accompanied by Genís Muntaner (1851-1917) and the painter Ramon Pitxot (1870-1925). He arrived in Granada during the last few days of the year and stayed until 13th May 1898.

Rusiñol’s health was declining because of the morphine he was using to calm the pain caused by what he thought was rheumatism, but was in fact renal necrosis. Nevertheless, in spite of his poor physical shape, Rusiñol put all his efforts into two major projects: dedicating a monument to El Greco – the first stone had been laid in August that year on the Passeig de la Ribera in Sitges – and preparing an exhibition about gardens which he wanted to present in Paris. This second initiative had a great deal to do with the excellent reception given to the paintings from his previous sojourn in Granada, from 1895 to 1896. He also spent his time correcting proofs and working on the publication of his play L’alegria que passa (The Happiness that Happens, 1898), which he had completed before leaving Sitges. The positive response to Oracions (Prayers, 1897) and Fulls de la vida (Life’s Pages, 1897) placed Rusiñol at the forefront of literary symbolism, the maximum expression of literary innovation at the time, both in Catalonia and in the world of Spanish literature, and he was recognised as such.

Rusiñol’s first garden paintings date from autumn 1895. They show the gardens of the Alhambra and the Generalife and led to a radical change in the painter’s aesthetic, which had become overtly symbolist by then. Both of Rusiñol’s sojourns, in 1895 and 1898, made him a more archetypically symbolist artist, both in terms of his artistic and literary language. In his 1898 paintings, Rusiñol worked intensely, so that, when he returned to Sitges he took with him “twenty-two paintings, radiant with light, with beautiful perspectives, perfectly realised and with a very good line”, as well as a series of drawings and written texts. In 1898, Rusiñol’s symbolism was at it zenith and continued with similar intensity until he published the album Jardins d’Espanya (Gardens of Spain, 1903), which was his swansong and farewell to the symbolist aesthetic.

Rusiñol wrote to Miquel Utrillo on 15th March 1898 “We’ve been in Víznar for four days, a village which there’s no point in looking for on the map, two hours from Granada. There’s an abandoned palace with beautiful gardens which I’ll be able to use to add to the collection of gardens I have already painted...” The series of works painted at Víznar in March 1898 consists of five paintings showing two interiors and three exteriors of Víznar Palace and forms its own specific series among the works produced during Rusiñol’s prolific stay in Granada in 1898.

The Granada-born painter, José Ruiz de Almodóvar (1867-1942), travelled with Rusiñol to Víznar, together with the young Mariano Bertuchi Nieto (1884-1955). They all lived in rooms at the palace and enjoyed painting the same places. Some time later, when the people of Granada exhibited Almodóvar’s works, the critics remarked on the symbolist influence of Rusiñol.

Rusiñol put all his melancholy, feelings of calm and solitude, of abandonment and the dreamlike state he was in at the time, into the works in Víznar. The village provided him with the ideal setting for inspiration, work, rest, reflection and restlessness. The impression made on the artist’s spirit by the rooms in the palace and the garden, its décor, the plants and the changing light at different times of the day was expressed as the intimist and subjective vision that revealed his state of mind. The result is a hermetic, compact body of work consisting of five paintings suffused with Rusiñol’s view of life and human beings, symbolised by the solitude and tranquillity of the palace chambers and their surrounding gardens. The two paintings Rusiñol kept as a memento of the time he spent at Víznar exude peace and quiet, contemplation and solitude. They are the Palau abandonat (Abandoned Palace) and the Interior, which are displayed on the walls of Cau Ferrat. The two paintings, and the other three, share an air of poetic intimism with all the works produced at Víznar, in early spring 1898.

The Víznar series has a literary companion piece: the play El jardí abandonat (The Abandoned Garden), which Rusiñol began working on while he was staying in the village. He read it for the first time in public at the headquarters of the Catalan association, the Agrupació Catalanista de Sitges, in July 1899. When the play was published the following year, with a musical score by Joan Gay, it had a great impact in Catalonia and Granada, clearly highlighting the close connection between the Víznar paintings and the play. Miquel Utrillo described “the rapport between Rusiñol’s literary and pictorial works” in the magazine Pèl & Ploma, which was lavishly illustrated with pictures of the Víznar paintings. With his finely honed critical skills, Utrillo revealed that the literary work, El jardí abandonat, encapsulated the very spirit of these gardens.

First editions

* Rusiñol, Santiago. El jardí abandonat, quadre poemàtic en un acte. Decorat amb música per Joan Gay. Barcelona: Typography L’Avenç, by Massó, Casas, Capo & Cia, 1900.

* Rusiñol, Santiago. Jardins d’Espanya, Barcelona: Photo. Thomas, 1903. Reproduction of the plate depicting the Palau abandonat.


Exhibitions (selection)

Salón de El Defensor de Granada, 13th, 14th and 15th May 1898: Interior (entitled Interior desierto. Palacio de Víznar), and Palau abandonat (entitled Patio abandonado. Palacio de Víznar)

Salon L’Art Nouveau. Paris, 1899

Sala Parés. Barcelona, 1900


50th Anniversary of Santiago Rusiñol’s Death. Aranjuez, Girona and Barcelona, 1981

50th Anniversary of Santiago Rusiñol’s Death. Sitges, 1981

Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931). Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Madrid: Fundación Mapfre, 1997

The Spirit Gardens of Santiago Rusiñol. Sabadell, Salamanca, Palma de Mallorca and Girona, 1999


Santiago Rusiñol in Granada. The Symbolist Vision. Museo Casa de los Tiros. Granada, November 2001


Concise bibliography:

Casacuberta, Margarida. Santiago Rusiñol: vida, literatura i mite. Barcelona: Curial: Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat, 1997. (Textos i estudis de cultura catalana; 56)

Casacuberta, Margarida. Santiago Rusiñol i el teatre per dins. Barcelona: Institut del Teatre, 1999. (Monografies de teatre; 37)

Coll i Mirabent, Isabel. S.Rusiñol. Sabadell: Ausa, 1992. (Monografies Ars-Ausa)

Laplana, Josep de C. Santiago Rusiñol. El pintor, l'home. Barcelona: Publicacions de l'Abadia de Montserrat, 1995. (Biblioteca Abat Oliba; 151)

Panyella, Vinyet. “Estimat senyor Domingo. Cartes de Santiago Rusiñol a Miquel Utrillo 1896-1899”. Cartipàs. Quaderns literaris penedesencs. Autumn 1981, no.5: 7-26.

Panyella, Vinyet. “Dels jardins de l’Alhambra al jardí abandonat”. Els jardins de l’ànima de Santiago Rusiñol. Girona: Fundació Caixa de Girona, 1999: 39-48.

Panyella 2000. Panyella, Vinyet. Paisatges i escenaris de Santiago Rusiñol (Sitges, París, Granada). Barcelona: Publicacions de l’Abadía de Montserrat: Curial, 2000. (Textos i estudis de cultura catalana; 75)

Panyella, Vinyet. Santiago Rusiñol, el caminant de la terra. Barcelona: Ed. 62, 2003. (Biografies i memòries; 51)

Pèl & Ploma, no.45 (7.IV.1900)

Sanchez Rodrigo, Lourdes. Oracions a la natura. La prosa poètica de Santiago Rusiñol. Sitges: Grup d'Estudis Sitgetans, 1992. (Estudis Sitgetans; 21)

Santiago Rusiñol en Granada. La visión simbolista. Granada: Museo Casa de los Tiros, 2001

Author of the file: Vinyet Panyella i Balcells