The flag of the Unió Catalanista returns to Montserrat
The flag of the Unió Catalanista (1903) designed by Alexandre de Riquer (1856-1920) shines again on display at the Museum of Montserrat, after being exhibited in Manresa and Barcelona on the occasion of the commemorative exhibition of the 125 years of the political movement “Bases de Manresa”. This exhibition has led to a fine tuning of the piece and the construction of a large new showcase that allows seeing the whole flag (4.05 x 2.40 meters). The last few years it had been shown dubbed, on the first floor of the Museum. Now, however, the new museographic holder has allowed us to highlight the flag in a larger space, the Puig i Cadafalch Room, and it is available to all visitors of the Museum. We also show the count crown inlaid with enamels and spearhead and axe, made in silver and metal by Masriera jewellers. These pieces had remained many years in the reserve for lack of space.
The idea of making a great “Senyera” (Catalan flag) that was the icon of the Unió Catalanista was by Agnès Armengol Altayó (1853-1934), activist and great promoter of the participation of women in militant Catalanism. In fact, she and her followers were in charge of collecting the money to carry out the project. Although the Unió Catalanista was born in 1891, the flag did not crystallize until 1900 with a popular collection that immediately raised 6,000 pesetas. Its design was entrusted to the most accredited Arts & Craft artist in Catalonia, Alexandre de Riquer, who even drew the textile basic fabric, red and yellow, 4 meters large, with the repeated coat of arms of Catalonia, probably made in Armengol’s company, daughter of a powerful manufacturer in Sabadell. The flag has a guild shape, that is, cut at its end, so that the piece suited better when it was carried in processions and popular demonstrations. Riquer enriched it with a vertical stripe, embroidered and with embedded fabrics, of modernist motifs, indicating the owner’s entity, and a central medallion with a Saint George fighting against the dragon, undoubtedly inspired by the relief of the medieval facade of the Generalitat (Catalan Government). In 1903 the work was finished and they celebrated the inauguration in the monastery of Poblet, on June 11. The crowning of the flagpole was made by Masriera jewellers, who used the design of Saint George by Riquer to make precious and valuable gold, enamel and fine pearl pendants for women.
The new presentation of the flag has been possible thanks to the organization of the exhibition The foundations of political Catalanism. Les Bases de Manresa, 125 years, promoted by the citizen commission of the 125th anniversary of the Bases and the Manresa City Council, and produced by the Diputació de Barcelona. The exhibition, curated by Rosa Serra, could be seen at El Casino Cultural Center of Manresa from February 12 to April 1, and at Can Serra building of the Diputació de Barcelona from April 12 to June 17 this year. The topic of the show was the historical importance of those Bases, which brought together in a very popular movement very different political, social and religious sensitivities. The flag, its preparation and its history have been the main elements of the exhibition.