MARIANO FORTUNY I MARSAL (Reus, Tarragona, 1838 - Rome, 1874).
"Mandolin player. Rome, 1861.
Oil on canvas.
Signed, dated and located in the lower left corner.
Labels of the Fundació Caixa de Pensions are attached to the back, due to the inclusion of this canvas in an anthological exhibition of the painter held in 1989 (Cultural Centre of the Fundació La Caixa, Barcelona).
Measurements: 68.8 x 44.5 cm.
In this oil painting, Fortuny's virtuosity is extreme, appreciable both in the tactile qualities and values and in the skilful modelling of the light which seems to give the figure three-dimensionality. The mandolin player, seated on a sturdy piece of furniture, plays his instrument while leaning dreamily against a wall whose floral wallpaper depicts a detailed interior with descriptive intent, a characteristic feature of one of the pioneers of house painting. The half-open mouth and melancholy eyes reveal that the mandolin player is singing as he plucks the strings. The expression is vivid, resolved with naturalism, combined with the meticulous and highly plastic reproduction of the leather gaiters, the armour and the blue stockings, under the elasticity of which the elasticity of the thighs and calves is transparent. The carving of the wood on the chest and the shine of the armour, as well as the spun textures of the Persian carpet, seal the whole of this interior that enraptures our senses. During his second stay in Rome, Fortuny frequently produced works featuring figures dressed in Italian folk costumes or medieval garb, such as this mandolin player. With these works the Catalan painter achieved unprecedented success among Spanish artists arriving in Italy.
Fortuny began his training at the municipal art school in Reus, and in 1850 he moved to Barcelona with his grandfather. There he continued his studies as a disciple of Domingo Talarn and enrolled at the School of Fine Arts, where his teachers were Pablo Milá, Claudio Lorenzale and Luis Rigalt. At the same time he attended Lorenzale's public school, which determined his inclination towards Romantic painting at this early stage. In 1858 he settled in Rome thanks to a scholarship, and attended the Accademia Chigi. In 1860 he visited Madrid, where he visited the Prado Museum and became interested in the work of Velázquez and Goya. Shortly afterwards he embarked on a tour of Europe, and finally returned to Rome for good. He attended classes at the French Academy of Fine Arts at the Villa Medici, and in 1861 he visited Florence and came into contact with the "macchiaioli". From then on he returned to Morocco and Paris, as well as travelling to Toledo, where he discovered the work of El Greco. In 1867 he exhibited in the studio of Federico de Madrazo, who became his father-in-law that same year. The following year he returned to Rome, and in 1870 his international fame was consolidated thanks to his exhibition at the Paris gallery of Goupil. During these years he settled in Granada, with the idea of tackling new themes with the greater freedom afforded by commercial and critical success. However, in 1872 he was forced to return to Rome, where he remained until his death. Mariano Fortuny is represented in the Prado Museum, the National Gallery in London, the Hispanic Society Museum in New York, the Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome, the Fine Arts Museums of Bilbao, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Boston and the National Art Museum of Catalonia, among many others.
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RICARDO OPISSO I SALA (Tarragona, 1880 - Barcelona, 1966).
"Existentialists of Saint Germain des Prés".
Mixed media on paper.
Signed, titled and dedicated to the "Club Comodin" in the lower right corner.
Size: 48 x 39 cm; 70,5 x 61 cm (frame).
With his characteristic ingenuity for the recreation of bohemian interiors and curious characters, Opisso reproduces here the atmosphere of the group of existentialists in the Parisian district of Saint Germain des Prés. A blonde, a pipe smoker and a third member of the group who has drunk too much absinthe are seated at a table under paintings by Miró and Sainz. The drawing is dedicated to the Club Comodín de Ajedrez.
Opisso was a painter, draughtsman and cartoonist. In his youth he participated in Barcelona's modernist environment, and in fact in 1894 he began to work as an apprentice with Antoni Gaudí on the works of the Sagrada Família. Two years later, backed by the architect, he became a member of the Círculo Artístico de Sant Lluc, with whom he would later exhibit at the Sala Parés. He was linked to the group Els Quatre Gats, together with Ramon Casas, Manuel Hugué, Isidre Nonell and Pablo Picasso, among others. In 1901 he made a trip to Paris, where Picasso and Hugué were already there. He worked as an illustrator in publications such as "Cu-cut!" and "L'Esquella de la Torratxa", signing drawings aimed at political satire, in a style close to art nouveau. In 1907 he took part in the Fine Arts Exhibition in Barcelona and was awarded a third-class medal. Due to the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera, Opisso abandoned political satire and his drawings moved towards genre themes, specialising in popular scenes. His works from this period are characterised by the presentation of motley crowds of people in popular Barcelona settings. After exhibiting several times in succession at the Sala Parés, he held his first solo exhibition in 1935 at the Syra galleries in Barcelona. During the post-war period he continued to exhibit in various galleries in Barcelona, and reaped considerable success with both critics and the public. In 1953 he received recognition from his native city at the 4th Tarragona Art Fair. During his early years, in addition to his surname, Opisso also used to sign his work with an "O" for Opisso, which contains the "R" of his name. Most of his work is kept in the Opisso Museum in Barcelona, but it is also present in the National Art Museum of Catalonia and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg. In terms of exhibitions, the one held at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in 2004 under the title "Catalan Painting, from Naturalism to Noucentisme", in which his work "Carnival" was exhibited, is particularly noteworthy. He has also had anthological exhibitions at the Saló del Tinell (1979), the Palau de la Virreina (1980), the Barcelona International Boat Show (1973), the Fundació La Caixa (1988, 2004, 2008) and the Caixa Tarragona (2003).
JOSÉ NAVARRO LLORENS (Valencia, 1867 - 1923).
Oil on canvas.
Signed in the lower left corner.
Size: 18 x 34 cm; 37 x 53 cm (frame).
José Navarro Llorens was very early inclined towards painting, and he studied at the School of Fine Arts of San Carlos, in his native city. After his time as a student we lose track of him, and we do not meet him again until 1895 when, according to Pantorba, he took part for the first and only time in the National Exhibition of Fine Arts, receiving an honourable mention. That same year saw the consecration of Joaquín Sorolla, who was unanimously awarded the first medal in the competition. Although they were lifelong friends, it is possible that Navarro, given his bohemian and humble character, did not aspire, like Sorolla, to a brilliant career of official laurels and courtly prestige. It seems that he never intended to project his work beyond a limited local sphere, as can be deduced from the fact that in his early years he devoted himself to painting genre scenes and gallant scenes for fans. However, his early works reveal a certain influence of the style of Mariano Fortuny, whom Navarro admired and from whose example he may have been inspired to travel to Morocco in a second period. This trip must have taken place shortly after he finished his studies and he devoted himself to depicting local, North African and Orientalist themes. At the beginning of the 20th century he was contracted to decorate a palace in Buenos Aires, although Navarro never arrived in Argentina. He set sail for that destination, but during a stopover in Rio de Janeiro the painter decided to stay there indefinitely. He continued to work in the Brazilian city and held a highly acclaimed exhibition. However, nostalgia for his homeland, the absolute protagonist of his pictorial language, led him to return to Valencia, where he settled permanently in Godella. There he lived the rest of his life in a simple and humble manner, giving painting classes at the local academy and painting tirelessly. His style drew on various influences, such as Fortuny, Domingo Marqués and Levantine luminism, but it was always deeply personal, linked to Navarrete's own way of understanding the world. His painting is reminiscent of Mediterranean clarity through beautiful transparencies, a corporeal luminosity and nervous, vibrant brushstrokes. His is an energetic, robust and vital realism, which turns light into a plastic and even tactile value, rather than a chromatic one. José Navarro is represented in the Fine Arts Museums of Valencia and Asturias, as well as in the Gerstenmaier collection.
ARCADI MAS I FONDEVILA (Barcelona, 1852 - Sitges, Barcelona, 1934).
"In the Bar".
Charcoal on paper.
Signed in the lower right-hand corner.
Size: 45 x 62 cm; 75.5 x 95 cm (frame).
Painter and draughtsman, founder of the luminist school of Sitges, Arcadi Mas i Fondevila trained at the La Lonja School in Barcelona, where his teachers were Antonio Caba and Claudio Lorenzale. In 1873 he travelled to Madrid, visited the Prado Museum and exhibited a painting in the Platería Martínez room, which was later bought by King Alfonso XII. Two years later he won the first Fortuny scholarship from the Barcelona City Council, which enabled him to further his studies by travelling to Italy on a scholarship between 1876 and 1886. During these years, Arcadi Mas i Fondevila visited Venice, Rome, Naples and Capri, while taking part in several group exhibitions at the Sala Parés in Barcelona. Ascribed to the Neapolitan naturalist school of Domenico Morelli, in 1885 he also took part in the exhibition of the Centre of Watercolourists in Barcelona. On his return to Catalonia, his friend Joan Roig Soler encouraged him to visit Sitges, and from this meeting and acquaintance the Sitges Luminist school was born, a pictorial current that brought together other artists such as Joaquim de Miró, Antoni Almirall and Joan Batlle. In 1887 he took part in the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Madrid, where he was awarded a medal. He also took part in the Universal Exhibition in Barcelona the following year, winning a first medal. Mas i Fondevila won two more medals at the Barcelona Fine Arts Exhibitions of 1894 and 1896, and in 1899 he became a member of the Círculo Artístico de Sant Lluc. In 1900 he opened the Rovira Salon in Barcelona with his first individual exhibition, a show that established him as a master of pastel painting. During this period, Mas i Fondevila also collaborated as a draughtsman in "La Ilustració Catalana". In 1928 he was commissioned to paint one of the murals in the Sala de Sant Jordi in the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, and in 1932 he again held a solo exhibition, this time in the Pinacoteca gallery. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his death, the Sitges Study Group devoted an anthological exhibition to him at the Maricel Museum (1985). He is represented at the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, the Maricel, the Cau Ferrat and Sitges Town Hall, as well as in other museums and private collections.
IGNASI MALLOL I CASANOVAS (Tarragona, 1892 - Bogotá, 1940).
Oil on canvas.
Signed in the lower right corner.
Size: 48 x 50 cm; 60 x 61,5 cm.
Ignasi Mallol was a Spanish painter and educator, who played a fundamental role in the conservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of Tarragona during the Spanish Civil War. He moved to Barcelona at a very young age and trained at the Martínez Altés Academy, the Joan Baixas Academy and the Galí Art School. At that time he shared his studio and friendship with Esteve Monegal and Francisco Vayreda. He travelled to Paris in 1911, once he had finished decorating the dining room of the house of the lawyer Joan Permanyer. In fact, shortly before that, both his colleagues in the Barcelona workshop and Domènec Carles had already settled in the French capital. Back in Barcelona between 1916 and 1917, he directed a private academy of fine arts that has been considered the heir to the Galí school, the so-called Escola de Bells Oficis, together with Romà Jori. In 1917 he abandoned the academy and the projects undertaken in Barcelona, depressed by the death of Prat de la Riba. He moved to Olot, where he was one of the leading exponents of the new Olot school. A member of the Barcelona-based association Les Arts i els Artistes, he exhibited in the salons organised by this organisation and held individual exhibitions. On his return to Tarragona, he exchanged the green landscape for the countryside and the coast. He won the extraordinary prize at the 1929 Spring Exhibition in Barcelona. Together with the sculptor Joan Rebull, he directed the Taller-Escuela de Tarragona, an artistic training centre founded by the Generalitat de Catalunya and Tarragona City Council in 1934, the development of which was cut short by the Civil War. Mallol and Rebull were appointed delegates of the Artistic Heritage Commission of the city of Tarragona. The archives of the Tarragona Commission were kept in the archbishop's palace until the occupation of Catalonia by the rebels. As for the Workshop-School, in 1938 a bombardment destroyed the building where it was located, and the teaching activity was transferred to the Archbishop's Palace. Classes continued until the end of the war. Among its students were Tomás Olivar, Garcianguera and Gonzalo Lindin, among others.