Francesc Granell, 13 January 2022
Although we are accustomed to a permanent revision of history by those who are interested in implying that the past was not as it was, but as they would have wanted it to be, these days we find ourselves with another debate on Catalonia’s participation in the history of Spain regarding the project to remove the 24 historical canvases that cover the walls of the Saló Sant Jordi of the Palau de la Generalitat (Palau de la Generalitat).
The issue of the ornamentation of the Saló Sant Jordi has been present throughout the history of the building since it was built in Renaissance style by Pere Blay at the end of the 16th century, and all successive governments have sought to leave their mark there. Now we are witnessing a reiterated debate that began during Pasqual Maragall’s presidency at the head of a government that also included the pro-independence supporters who, surely, were the ones who pressured him to step into this puddle.
The pro-independence historians search for historical facts that could separate us.
The canvases that are to be removed and kept were painted during the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, after Puig i Cadafalch had the paintings by Torres García, which until 1918 had adorned part of the hall and which today, once recovered, are partially exhibited in other rooms of the Palau that require less seating.
The canvases, now classified as Spanishist, depict historical scenes such as the Battle of Lepanto, the Compromise of Caspe, the return of Columbus from his first voyage to America, the Virgin of Montserrat, the Battle of Bruc, the Battle of Navas de Tolosa, the meeting of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Barcelona, Les Corts Generals de la Corona d’Aragó a Montsó, James I conquering Mallorca and the monastery of Poblet. I honestly do not see too much Spanishism in these issues.
What I want to point out here is that the historical content of this action is none other than an attempt to erase the fact that Catalonia has a past deeply linked to the history of Spain, as the paintings commissioned by the Diputació after the glorious revolution of 1868 showed, when a large canvas by Sans Cabot on the battle of Tetuan with General Prim and his Catalan volunteers in the war in Morocco or the embarkation of Catalan volunteers for the war in Cuba was installed in the Saló Sant Jordi.
The pro-independence historians search for historical facts that could separate us from Spain and if they do not find them, they choose to erase past events that do not suit their arguments.
Let us hope that this time sanity will prevail and the paintings commissioned by the then president of the Provincial Council Josep Maria Milá, Count of Montseny, during the years of Primo de Rivera, will be respected. Trying to erase what was done in those years would lead us to absurdities such as demolishing the palaces of the 1929 Exhibition. History is what it is.