In the spring of 1937, Paris hosted the exhibition L’art catalan du Xème au XVème siècle. It was a milestone in the history of Catalan art, as it was the first time that a representative exhibition of Catalan medieval art had been shown abroad. In the context of the Civil War, the Government of the Generalitat obtained authorisation from the Government of the Republic and the collaboration of the French authorities to move the main Romanesque and Gothic works of Catalan artistic heritage and exhibit them in Paris.
The first venue for the exhibition was the Jeu de Paume (March-April 1937), which was extended and a second, larger exhibition was held at the Château Maisons-Laffitte (June- November 1937).
The extraordinary quality of medieval art exhibited led to an international recognition of it, reaffirming the immense work carried out by the leaders of the Government of Catalonia to safeguard and preserve it.
The exhibition L’art catalan du Xème au XVème siècle, at the Jeu de Paume in Paris (March- April 1937) proved to be a success with the general public and allowed those with knowledge and interest in European medieval art to discover a highly valuable heritage, unknown on the continent until then.
The exhibition highlighted the extraordinary work done by the Generalitat to safeguard the country’s artistic heritage at the beginning of the Civil War and in the accompanying revolutionary wave. It showed the world what Joaquim Folch i Torres and other specialists were able to accomplish from the beginning of the 20th century, and culminated in the creation and opening of the Museu d’Art de Catalunya in 1934.
The impossibility of extending the exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, and the inauguration of the Paris International Exhibition – where Picasso’s Guernica and Joan Miró’s The Reaper were exhibited at the Pavilion of the Spanish Republic – meant that the exhibition of Catalan art was moved to the Château de Maisons-Laffitte, supported by the Ministry of Fine Arts of the French Republic. The spaces of the Château were adapted by Joaquim Folch i Torres and Josep Lluís Sert, the exhibition was expanded with new pieces from Olot and a new layout was planned.
The exhibition was supported by high quality specialist publications. André Dezarrois, director of the Jeu de Paume; Paul Vitry, curator of the Louvre Museum, and Christian Zervos, art critic and founder of the leading magazine Cahiers d’Art, collaborated on texts and photographs, something which had never before occured in this artistic heritage.