The Art Gallery houses most of the initial painting collection, with works that Víctor Balaguer himself gathered during his lifetime and others from the many donations he received from contemporary artists.
Prominent among the artists represented are Marià Fortuny, Ramon Martí Alsina, Joaquin Sorolla, Ramon Casas and Santiago Rusiñol. The major genres exhibited are landscapes, portraits and genre painting, which reflect bourgeois tastes of the time.
The most significant artistic styles of the moment are also represented:
- Romanticism, which marked the first break away from the prevailing academic painting and emerged in Catalonia alongside political liberalism in the mid-19th century.
- Realism, which appeared as a counterpoint to the idealism characteristic of Romanticism and which developed in Catalonia during the third quarter of the 19th century. This was also the time of plein air painting and painting from nature, which fostered the appearance of tubes of oil paint. Catalan landscape painting acquired great importance.
- Symbolism, which marked Catalonia’s first step towards Modernisme. The Symbolists, who championed poetic imagination and spiritual enlightenment, sought inspiration in literary, mythological or historical motifs, often with woman in the leading role.