a wandering woman writes

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Casa Lis

A couple of weeks ago, John, who so generously feeds me architecture links, asked me to take my camera along on a walk by Casa Lis. I boldly marched inside, camera in hand, John, only to discover why you found so few Casa Lis photos on the web. My trusty Canon was quickly confiscated. I wandered around the museum with a lovely little numbered keyring, which got me my camera back, but didn't help you see inside Casa Lis.

So we'll show you the exterior view and you'll just have to stop by Salamanca and see the interior for yourself. :) I love Casa Lis, because I have a spectacular view of the front entrance, lit up like neon, the scene you'll see on the opening page of the musuem web, and because the building is such an expected joy - a modernist jewel, framed by wrought iron and stained glass, smack dab in the middle of Salamanca's historic center. A museum of Art Noveau and Art Deco surrounded by Renaissance palaces and simple, perfectly preserved Romanesque churches.
The building, my "Biography of Salamanca" tells me, was constructed between 1904 and 1905 by Joaquín de Vargas, a Cádiz-born architect who was the architect for the Diputación Provincial (provincial government) and the Diocese. Originally the home of Miguel de Lis, Casa Lis passed to a religious order before being purchased by the city of Salamanca. The museum opened in 1995, to showcase both the building and the Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces donated by a Salamanca-born collector, Manuel Ramos Andrade.

For me, the museum is well worth a long leisurely visit for the stained glass alone. The collections of jewelry, vases, sculptures and dolls are impressive, if a little overwhelming. Now that I've visited a few times, I tend to wander slowly through the atrium and out to the balcony to wonder at the glass on a bright Spanish day. Finally, I always head to the early 20th century art glass, where I spend a while wishing and sighing. Casa Lis has a way of tranforming me directly into Nora Charles, Mrs. Thin Man. I leave as Nora Charles every time, sipping a martini in my Manhatten apartment and bantering with my mustachioed Mr. Thin Man, while I watch precious little Asta walk all over my art deco couches and threaten my noveau glass. :)

Thanks to your request for photos, John, I ran into a mousepad of the atrium stained glass, which I promptly purchased to allow permanent access to my Nora Charles deco mood. If I start blogging witty mysteries, you'll understand.

The photo that opens this post is a scan of the brochure. The last two photos are the back entrance, from Calle El Expolio, and the view down El Expolio, from Patio Chico, both on a very dreary day. Apologize for the quality of the photos!



  • Ooh, I've been trying to decide between going to Italy or Greece in May, now I'm wondering whether Spain wouldn't be a better idea! I didn't know about this museum in Salamanca, thanks for mentioning it.

    By Blogger qaminante, at 12:16 AM  

  • Very interesting. Thanks.

    By Anonymous Alex, at 6:46 AM  

  • Oh, Spain, qaminante, Spain! Plus you speak Spanish, don't you?

    Thanks, Alex. The Manuel Ramos Andrade who donated all the items in the museum was born in Salamanca but lived in Barcelona, where he collected all this stuff.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:41 AM  

  • Thanks for the quality of the tour :) and the introduction to Mrs Thin Man, of whom I had never heard.

    Your view must be spectacular ... sometimes it is easy to forgive modernist upstarts for appearing in the midst of ancient places.

    By Blogger woman wandering, at 11:07 AM  

  • Oh, I am sure you can rent The Thin Man in Antwerp - it's a classic. Dashiell Hammett goes witty and screwball, basically, with a dead body surfacing somewhere between the witty comebacks and heavy drinking. I've just always had a thing for movies from the 30's--the whole era, really.

    And Casa Lis is easy to forgive. If you ask me, it works right where it is. Truth is we have lots of architecture hundreds of years apart in Salamanca, lots of gems next to other gems built 300 or 400 or 500 years later, but to us they are all historic or ancient. No?:)

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:24 PM  

  • Thanks for the photos and the mini-tour. Which way is north if you were on the staircase looking up the window wall. I wonder what Señor Lis did to build himself a palace?

    By Anonymous John, at 10:45 PM  

  • John, this is embarassing but I'm a coast-dweller turned Chicagoan, so I've always used huge bodies of water (and brilliantly laid out city plans, Chicago, eg) as compasses. Based on the sun, I'd tell you that facing up at the building from the stairs, you're looking North. He had a south view, in other words, down to the river. I'll bring my little compass today and tell you if I'm wrong about that.

    And I can't seem to find how he made that fortune, but I will...The museum site calls him Miguel de Lis, so we'll go with that.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:30 AM  

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