Desolation (Catalan: Desconsol) is one of the best known and most evocative statues by Catalan sculptor Josep Llimona i Brugera.
Born in Barcelona in 1863, Josep Llimona is widely considered to be the most influential sculptor of the Catalan Modernism artistic movement.
His earliest commissions were mostly monuments and funerary statues. In fact, Desolation is a nude version of a statue called El Dolor i la Resignació (English: Pain and Resignation), which was commissioned in 1903 for a grave in Montjuïc Cemetery.
The original statue, which is made of grey limestone, portrays two women, one of whom is seated on a bench while the other kneels beside her, her face turned to the ground and her hands clasped together.
In 1907, Llimona presented Desolation at the Exposition of Fine Arts of Barcelona. The statue was later purchased by the city’s mayor who donated it to the Museum of Modern Art of Barcelona. It is currently on display in the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC).
Llimona created several copies of the sculpture, one of which is in the Prado museum in Madrid. Another larger version made of white marble was installed in front of the Catalan Parliament buildings in the Ciutadella Park.
Marble is quite a soft stone, and over the years, the statue slowly deteriorated due to prolonged exposure to the elements and air pollution. In 1985 it was replaced by a plaster replica, and the original went into storage at the MNAC museum, where it underwent restoration.
In 2018, the statue came out of storage and was installed in the Palau de la Generalitat where it takes pride of place in the entrance hall.
Desolation by Josep Llimona, Locations in Barcelona
1. Montjuïc Cemetery
El Dolor i la Resignació (the clothed version of Desconsol) adorns the grave of Mercè Casas de Vilanova in Montjuïc Cemetery.
The cemetery is open daily from 08:00 to 18:00 and can be visited free of charge.
The grave is in square E3 of this map of the cemetery. I’ve also marked the location as closely as possible on the map below. Buses to the cemetery depart from Avinguda Paral·lel and take about fifteen minutes (bus number 21).
The cemetery can also be reached on foot following the footpath from Montjuïc castle although you should bear in mind that it’s very large and built on a hillside. There is also a bus which runs within the cemetery (bus number 107).
Address: Carrer de Mare de Déu de Port, 56-58
Bus: TMB bus number 21
2. National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC)
The first nude version of Desolation is on display in the MNAC museum on Montjuïc.
Address: Parc de Montjuïc
Metro: Espanya (L1, L3 & L8)
3. Palau de la Generalitat de Catalunya
The statue which stood outside the Catalan Parliament buildings from 1917 until 1985 is now in the Palau de la Generalitat in Plaça de Sant Jaume.
Note: The Palau de la Generalitat is the seat of the Catalan government and, apart from a few exceptions, is not usually open to the general public.
Address: Plaça de Sant Jaume
Metro: Jaume I (L4 – yellow line)
4. Ciutadella Park
The Ciutadella Park is open daily from 10:00 until 22:30 and can be visited free of charge.
The sculpture is in the middle of a small ornamental pool in Plaça de Joan Fiveller.
Address: Passeig Picasso, 21
Metro: Ciutadella I Vila Olimpica (L4 – yellow line)