BORN in 1852 to a family of artisans in Tarragona whose ancestors had emigrated from France in the 17th century, Antoni Gaudí was a sickly child who suffered from rheumatism at an early age.
As he grew up, he trekked around Catalonia observing nature which was to influence his future development. A solitary figure who embraced vegetarianism and the catholic religion, he never married and it is said only ever showed any interest in just one woman, who did not reciprocate his feelings.
Although forced to undertake national service, he was on sick leave most of the time and took advantage of this to study architecture. When he graduated in 1878, the director of the college said to him ‘We have given this academic title to either a fool or a genius. Time will tell.’
He was of course a genius and the leader of the Catalan Modernist movement, creating designs of all sorts which took inspiration from the art nouveau era and nature in general. Looking around Barcelona, there are many examples of his virtuosity, the most noticeable perhaps being the Sagrada Família (Church of the Holy Family) which was started in 1882 and may be finished by 2026.