Minerva by Bernat Crospís

  • Description

  • Work's History

The Minerva on the façade over the Carrer del Consolat de Mar, created like the Mercury by Bernat Crospís, is an athletic young woman wearing a helmet, holding a shield on her left arm and a sceptre, a symbol of power, in her right hand.

The two plaster reliefs on the tympanums of the pediments overlooking the Carrer del Consolat de Mar, formerly Carrer dels Encants, are the only sculptural works remaining from the exterior decoration of the Llotja planned by Pere Pau Muntanya on the occasion of the double royal wedding of 1802.

The two reliefs are by Bernat Crospís and represent Mercury, the Roman equivalent of Hermes, the protector of traders and travellers, and Minerva, known to the Greeks as Athena, the divinity who in Rome presided over all manner of cultural activities, particularly those concerned with learning. The presence of the two gods, who are very often portrayed together, on the façade of the building suggest a bond between the task of education on one hand and business activity and economic progress on the other, fields in which the Llotja and the institutions it has housed have always been prominent.

According to the myth, Mercury, the son of Jupiter and Maia, is the messenger of the gods and the protector of traders, travellers and pilgrims. His Greek name, Hermes, means ‘interpreter, mediator.’ The Romans used the figure of Mercury to represent moral balance and good conduct: the caduceus – a staff with two entwined serpents – expressed power; the two serpents, wisdom; and the wings, diligence. This god also personified the qualities of the educator: reason and eloquence. The money purse manifests his link with commerce, as does his Latin name Mercury, since merx means ‘merchandise.’

Minerva, like Mercury, is a child of Jupiter. She is the patron of warfare and the protectress of the sciences and the arts. In Rome she was considered the goddess of reason and presided over activities related with the intellect. The heiress of the Greek divinity Athena, she is customarily represented dressed as a warrior.


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