Lizette Nin The Names of the Streets around can Mantega

Lizette Nin

The Names of the Streets around can Mantega

Who are the streets surrounding can Mantega dedicated to? Why them?

A walk around the park gathers fragments of history that a priori may seem unrelated, but taking into account the dates on which these streets were (re)named and the political situation of the time, the network of connections becomes visible and highly relevant to this part of Sants.

Detail Lizette Nin, The Names of the Streets around can Mantega


In The Names of the Streets around can Mantega, Dominican artist Lizette Nin investigates and dialogues with the biographies of Joaquima Rosés, Denis Papin, Joseph Marie Charles “Jacquard”, Melcior de Palau, Violant d’Hongria and Joan Güell i Ferrer, in an illuminating intervention by the park of Can Mantega in Sants.

With alternative printing techniques Nin uses images found during her investigations and then carefully folds and shapes her paper sculptures into lamps. She works with paper, because unlike white marble, it is light, ephemeral and readily available. 

As she folds and creates her lamps, she contemplates the lives of these six immortalised people: Denis Papín, the inventor of the steam digester, has a direct connection with the working-class principles of the neighborhood; Melcior de Palau the poet-engineer designed these streets now inhabited by the local community;  Joseph Marie Jacquard’s loom is directly related to the textile businesses that formed the economic expansion and subsequent industrialization of Sants; Joaquima Rosés i Cuyas the benefactor remembered mostly for her male relations, and Violant of Hungary, a queen with political principles who intervened with the policies and mandates that were established at a time when women’s opinions were not taken into consideration.

And finally, in contrast, she recalls the darkness of another character, probably the most controversial of all, that of Joan Güell i Ferrer “a clear representation of evil disguised with dignity and wealth”. Until recently, speaking about the fact that he earned his fortune as a result of the slave trade he vehemently protected, and later through the exploitation of those who worked for him, was considered taboo.


Until just 100 years ago, this area was mainly agricultural. Josep Miracle vividly describes the fields of can Mantega which extended to Carrer de Galileu in his memoir Quatre coses del meu temps (Four Things from my Time).

With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, this land in Sants became valuable, offering what Barcelona could not: space. In addition, it was easily accessible by train and was hydrated thanks to the construction of the Canal de la Infanta – inaugurated in 1819 – originally to help irrigate the local fields and which, later, turned out to be crucial for the expansion and economic development of Sants.

As this land increased in demand, its surrounding area developed rapidly. In 1960, a third of the can Mantega land was expropriated to expand the streets named after Melcior de Palau, Rosés and the new carrer de Joan Güell, now crossed the middle of the terrain.

To better understand the reasons why these historical figures were chosen to remain immortal on the plaques of these streets, it is interesting to take note of when these streets were named, or, in some cases renamed.

Carrer de Rosés: There is not much information about the origin, but the historian Josep M. Vilarrúbia explains that this street was named before 1884 and relates to an existing farmhouse in this vicinity. The Barcelona Nomenclàtor identifies Joaquima Rosés i Cuyàs (? -1853) as the owner of the land where the street was opened. 

In a 1846 deed described on the website of the parish of Santa Maria del Remei (les Corts), Joaquina Rosés y Cuyàs, widow of José Gelabert del Coscoll and her son Joaquín Gelabert y Rosés make a perpetual donation of a land with an area of 18,850 Catalan spans formerly known as Mas Vinyals and planted with vineyards. In an extension to the deed, on the 20th of the same month, the donation is ratified to include an additional area of ​​4,930 Catalan palms.

Through the same website, it seems that she was related to Vicenç Cuyás, mayor of Les Corts in 1836, and later, in 1842 councilor with Gaspar Rosés i Arús. Rosés, a lawyer and politician linked to the Regionalist League, was also president of FC Barcelona between 1916 and 1917, from 1920 to 1921 and from 1930 to 1931 as well as being president of the Catalan Football Federation between 1916-1918.


Carrers de Papin, Jacquard i Joan Güell: These streets were all named in 1907, and the three characters are related to the Industrial Revolution and the industrialization of Sants.

1.Denis Papin (1647-1713) was a French physicist, mathematician, and inventor, best known for his pioneering invention of the steam digester, the forerunner of the pressure cooker and the steam engine which marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

2.Joseph Marie Charles “Jacquard” (1752-1834) was a French weaver and merchant known for creating the first programmable punched card loom: the Jacquard loom in 1801. This loom played an important role in the development of other programmable machines, such as the first version of the digital compiler used by IBM to develop today’s computer technology.

3.Joan Güell y Ferrer (1800-1872) was a Catalan industrialist, politician and economist, an active defender of protectionism. He started a family saga of prominent Catalan businessmen and patricians. His story is particularly relevant to the artist, as he returns to Catalonia from the Dominican Republic (Nin’s birthplace) after the political crisis and the abolition of slavery in the Antilles. Upon his return to Barcelona, he enrolls in the Maritime Academy where he continues in his slave trade even after the first laws prohibiting it are drafted, thus building his fortune by kidnapping and trafficking human beings, and later exploiting the workers in his factories.


Carrer de Melcior de Palau: Melcior de Palau i Catalá (1843-1910) was a highway, canal and port engineer and writer. During the period leading to the Universal Exhibition (1888), he was Chief Engineer of the Barcelona Provincial Council, and as such drew up the Barcelona Provincial Road Plan (1879).

This street was previously known as carrer de Padre Gallifa, and Fivaller before that. It was renamed in 1927. A year later, a young Justa Goicoechea began to work in the factory located in this road called Tints i Aprestos SA Minguell, today known for hosting Flowers by Bornay.


Carrer de Violant d’Hongria, reina d’Aragó: Violent of Hungary, Queen of Aragon (Hungary, 1216 – Huesca 1251) was a Hungarian royal princess and as the second wife of Jaume I (James I of Aragon), queen consort of Catalunya and Aragó, among other titles. In 1943, at the request of the Hungarian Hispanophile Oliver Brachfeld, the name of this street was changed to replace “Yolanda” on the occasion of the publication of a biography of the queen and as a tribute to Hungary.

History describes her as a “woman of talent and character.” Together with her husband, Jaume I, she had an important role in the politics of the Crown of Aragon, being one of the most valuable advisers to the king, over whom she exercised a “strong influence.”


Source texts: B Nomenclàtor, Història dels carrers de Sants, Josep M. Vilarrúbia i Estrany, Edición Especial por la Caixa de Barcelona, web parroquia remei, wikipedia, B Nomenclàtor, Història dels carrers de Sants, Josep M. Vilarrúbia i Estrany, Edición Especial por la Caixa de Barcelona

Source archive images: Municipal Archive of the District of Sants-Montjuïc (AMDS)

For more information on the other works of art participating in the exhibition, see Related Exhibitions

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