Jean-Honoré Fragonard, “Charles-Michel-Ange Challe”, 1769. MNAC
[…] Through the Fundació Bernat Metge and the contributions made to all the other institutions that were founded to sustain Catalan intellectuals, I contributed to preventing the dispersion and obstruction of vocational aspirations that the dictatorship [Primo de Rivera’s] could bring about.
I then devoted it [my fortune], predominantly, to the acquisition of works of art, with the hope of building a Renaissance Art Museum in Catalonia.
During his life, Francesc Cambó developed a taste for high culture and an extraordinary intuition and ability to promote and diffuse it on a grand scale.
Helena Cambó, in her article ‘My father’, outlines the origin, evolution and characteristics of this side of the patron:
His cultural patronage will never be a distraction, a pastime or a lazy entertainment. Again it will be an immersion in a world that passions him one may say at life’s length! ‘My passion for art objects comes from far, it comes from my childhood. As a boy, in Besalú I was entranced with the delightful samples of Romanesque art I could admire there.’ Later on travelling around Europe, with a good knowledge of its monuments, museums and many of the private collections, his sensibility increases: ‘My passion for art is growing. I realized it comes to change the disposition of my spirit.’. (Cambó, La col·lecció Cambó del Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, 1997)
This discovery of art’s transformative power also overflowed into another field. In 1923, exactly a year after the launch of one of his most acclaimed patronage projects, the Fundació Bernat Metge (FBM), Francesc Cambó, during a speech delivered to his collaborators, revealed:
My love of the Greek and Latin classics goes back many years. Reading them has been an enormous blessing for me; amid the constant upheaval of my life, I have drawn on them as a source of calm and reflection and they have comforted me with tremendous breaths of optimism.
Cambó 1997: Helena Cambó, ‘My father’, in the catalogue La col·lecció Cambó del Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona: MNAC; English version, p. 184-185, Catalan version, p. 9-11.