Quinten Metsys, “Cap de vell / Cabeza de anciano”, 1525. MNAC
Of all the forms of artistic expression, the one that has always given me most pleasure is painting. (Cambó, Memòries, 1981)
My intention was to search out, in each of the schools not represented in Spain, a piece created, where possible, by the greatest of its masters, and if not, by the next most celebrated, and I have devoted a considerable part of my fortune to the realisation of that task […]. (Cambó, Discursos parlamentaris (1907-1935), 1991)
As he confessed in his Memoirs, Francesc Cambó saw art collecting not only as a great pleasure but also as a duty. In his address to Spanish Parliament on 6 December 1935, he described the prominence this task represented within the sphere of his cultural projects:
[…] Today we find that, due to a variety of circumstances, there are a number of those in Spain, myself included, who dedicate ourselves to the completion of Spain’s artistic heritage and to the acquisition of highly valuable works of art from abroad. I stress that I am not alone in my undertaking of this task; although, for my part, I can assure you that ever since, more by chance circumstances that my own merits, I came into possession of a sizeable fortune, I saw it as my duty to apportion it during my lifetime and to apportion it, principally, within cultural concerns, and one of my greatest heartfelt preoccupations was to obtain, for Spain, a supplement to that which is contained in the formidable collection of paintings at the Prado Museum […].
Cambó’s style of collecting was, in the words of art historian Francesc Fontbona, one that, ‘looked ambitiously outwards and towards the great classics of the past’ and which ‘has not been seen since in Catalonia. Cambó’s successor in this field has yet to take up the mantle’ (Fontbona, El món de Cambó. Permanència i canvi en el seu 125è Aniversari, 2001).
Cambó 1981: Francesc Cambó, Memòries (1876-1936), Barcelona: Alpha.
Cambó 1991: Francesc Cambó, “En defensa del tresor artístic nacional”, in Discursos parlamentaris (1907-1935), Barcelona: Alpha, p. 899-903.
Fontbona 2001: Francesc Fontbona, “El mecenatge en la dinàmica cultural”, in El món de Cambó. Permanència i canvi en el seu 125è Aniversari, Barcelona: Alpha, p. 125-139.