apdevila is a family saga of catalan jewellers and goldsmiths established in the city of Barcelona since 1905. Its origins date back to the late 19th century, and its history can be traced through each of the four generations that comprise it.
In the Modernist Barcelona of the late 19th century, the son of a tripe dealer and a mechanical technician took advantage of a vacancy left open by his neighbour as a jewellery apprentice in a small atelier on Argenteria street. The young man was named Joaquim Capdevila Meya and he was the first generation of Capdevila Joiers.
He struck out on his own in 1905 and founded the first familiar atelier. In 1910, he began to work along with Agustí Valentí, and beyond the trends of the era, many of the pieces they crafted experimented with the forms of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. In 1917, a new association, this time with Artur Roig i Casanoves, allowed him to take on even more challenges. Worth noting in those years are his close professional partnership with the architects Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Antoni Gaudí, among others. In 1925, his eldest son Manuel joined the family atelier; following a longstanding family tradition, he was named after his grandfather. In the late 1920’s, they undertook emblematic projects such as crafting the Great Candlesticks of the Assembly Hall of the Barcelona Provincial Council, currently the Golden Hall of the Generalitat de Catalunya.
Manuel Capdevila Massana started his studies in 1924. Later on, between 1926 and 1943, he furthered his training with several sojourns in Paris, and most importantly he took advantage of the opportunity to enter into contact with the artistic avant-gardes. In 1934, he held his first individual painting exhibition at the Syra Gallery in Barcelona, and as a jeweller he received the commission to craft the Golden Pectoral Medal, the symbol of the President of the Court of Cassation of Catalonia, in conjuction with the sculptor Charles Collet.
In 1936, he was invited to participate in the Triennale di Milano as a goldsmith, and he worked with the family atelier to craft such emblematic works as the Medal of the President of the Court of Cassation of the Generalitat de Catalunya, among others.
A jeweller and painter, Manuel Capdevila combined his professional career with his other artistic pursuits, while bringing novel designs and materials into the fields of jewellery and goldsmithing. In 1938, he showed his celebrated silver and avant-garde urushi brooches in the Salon d’Automne in Paris. Currently, these pieces are on display at the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC). In 1939 he took over the atelier because the Civil War in Spain.
After a few years in Paris again, he came back to Barcelona and at the helm of the atelier he undertook numerous commissions for sacred works such as the Llàntia del Sardanisme (1947) and the canopy, cross and the antependium of the main altar of the Basilica of Montserrat. Because of their originality, we should also mention the Kolbe Crown (1954) and the Cross of Saint George (1981), among others.
He was founding partner of the Saló d’ Octubre. In 1950, he founded the Aula de Joieria at Barcelona’s Escola Massana, where he worked as a teacher. He exhibited his works in Barcelona, Paris, Bilbao and Madrid, and at the Carnagie International Exhibition of Pittsburgh (1950). In 1961, he promoted the Kunst und Werkschule Show of the Arts and Crafts School of Pforzheim, which embarked upon an association with the Escola Massana. In 1966, he was a member of the organising commitee of the exhibition One Hundred Years of Catalan Jewellery at the Professional Architects’ Association of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. He won numerous prizes, including the Gold Medal of the State of Bavaria in the exhibition Form und Qualitat (1967), first prize in the International Art in Sport Exhibition (1967) and the Gold Medal of Artistic Merit of the Barcelona Town Hall (1999). He was named an honorary member of the FAD Goldsmiths’ Group (1979), among others organisations. His works have been the subject of anthological exhibitions (1991, 2000) and are represented in museums around the world.
In 1994, he was elected to be an Honorary Scholar of the Sant Jordi Royal Catalan Fine Arts Academy. His works earned the Gold Medal from the State of Bavaria (1967), the Creu de Sant Jordi of the Generalitat de Catalunya (1986) and the Medalla d’ Or al Mèrit Artístic of the Ajuntament of Barcelona (1998). His work is present in the collections of the National Art Museum of Catalonia and the Decorative Arts Museum (Barcelona). In 2000, the Museum of Montserrat organised a tribute and antholical exhibition of his paintings and goldwork.
In the late 1950s, the third generation joined the family atelier with Joaquim Capdevila Gaya, a prestigious catalan goldsmith and jeweller.
He was trained in the family atelier, at the Escola Massana and at the Atelier Lacambra of Paris. He is one of the main exponents of contemporary jewellery in our country. International renowned, he has been invited to participate in the most important contemporary jewellery exhibitions of the 20th century in Europe, the Americas, Australia and Japan. In 1985, he participated in the show entitled Joies de Catalunya. Schmuck aus Katalonien at the Schmuckmuseum of Pforzheim. At the head of the Capdevila atelier, he has undertaken numerous institutional commissions, such as the Cross of Saint George for the Generalitat de Catalunya, as well as sacred works for the Abbey of Montserrat, among other clients. In 1979, he became a founding member of the FAD Goldsmiths’ Association, where he has consulted on and curated multiple exhibitions. His works are displayed in the National Art Museum of Catalonia, the Design Museum of Barcelona, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Schmuckmuseum of Pforzheim (Germany), the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh (United Kingdom) and the Slavik Collection of Vienna, among others.
Currently, Manel Capdevila Coral (Barcelona, 1973) is the fourth generation at the helm of Capdevila Joiers. Trained in the family atelier and academically at Barcelona’s Escola Massana, he has participated in different national and international exhibitions. Since 1990, his professional work has revolved around the oversight of jewellery and its corresponding ateliers.
Among other projects, he helped restore 160 votive candles in the Basilica of Montserrat and crafted the Medal of the Legal Advisory Commission of the Generalitat de Catalunya and in 2013 he designed a pastoral ring for Francisco Bergoglio.