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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Jose de Madrazo y Agudo

Death of Viriatus, Chief of the Lusitanians,
1806, Jose de Madrazo Y Agudo
I hate to complain about something I dearly love to do, but when it comes to writing about artist from before about 1850, I very often find myself faced with three or more generations of artists from the same family. Usually I write about the patriarch of the family with some mention of the offspring who, like their father also became artists to the extent their work merits inclusion. I find these situations especially confusing when dealing with Spanish art family in that they have a tendency to include sometimes an extensive recitation of the family tree. (Check out Picasso's full name sometime.) The problem is that their names often get rather lengthy, which makes writing about them needlessly complex, and I never know quite how to shorten them for easier readability.

Portrait of Woman,
Jose de Madrazo y Agudo
The 19th-century Spanish painter is a prime example. His full name was Jose de Madrazo y Agundo. Precisely trans-lated that means Joe of Madrazo and Agundo, the latter names usually being the individuals father and mother, al-though in some cases one of the names may refer to a family's hometown. My sources aren't much help, referring to the man as y Agundo, de Madrazo, or just plain Madrazo. Some just stick with the pronoun "he" though that can get rather complicated when writing about more than one male individual. Worse still, later generations sometimes drop one or more names for convenience sake.

The patriarch of three generations of Spanish painters.

Jose de Madrazo y Agundo was born in Santander, on the north coast of Spain in 1781. His two sons, also painters were Federico and Luis, born in 1815 and 1825 Respectively. Federico's sons, Raimundo and Ricardo were also accomplished artists. The sons and grandsons all went by the name de Madrazo. Thus, for the sake of simplicity, I shall use de Madrazo as well. He began his training at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid between 1797 and 1801. He had as a teacher Gregorio Ferro. He finished his education, thanks to a royal grant, in Paris, around 1803 in the workshop of Jacques-Louis David, where he med and befriended another of David's students, Jean-Auguste- Dominique Ingres. In Paris, in 1803, he tasted his first success with Jesus in the house of Annas (below), clearly under the influence of David.

De Madrazo's religious works are among his best.
Later, de Madrazo went to Rome with Ingres, where he remained from 1803 to 1818.  During his Italian stay, he obtained a discreet success with his oil painting of 1808, The Death of Viriatus, Chief of the Lusitanian (top), which he painted in the years when he attended classes at the Academy of San Lucas. During the time in which the French invasion took place in Spain, de Madrazo, who was in Italy. He was one of the first to oppose the Bonaparte government, and for his opposition, was imprisoned in Castel Sant'Angelo and later in the Spanish Embassy. There he met the Spanish king and queen, Carlos IV and María Luisa de Borbón, whom Napoleon had sent into exile. In 1809, while still in Rome, de Madrazo married Isabel Kuntze, daughter of the Silesian painter Tadeusz Kuntze.

Portrait of Fernando VII, 1820, Jose de Madrazo y Agudo

In 1813 de Madrazo was appointed court painter of Carlos IV, and later, Academician of Merit of the Academy of San Lucas. Both positions were largely honorary in that the king was in exile at the time. During his Roman years de Madrazo's production was almost exclusively portraits, especially of artists and nobles of the society of the eternal city. Upon his return to Spain in 1818, he gained a great deal of prestige in artistic circles, with the fall of Napoleon I and the coming to power of Ferdinand VII. On a very different note is de Madrazo's monumental Portrait of Fernando VII, on Horseback (above), from 1821. The Prado also has de Madrazo's Self-portrait dating from the 1840s and the allegorical Divine Love and Profane Love (below), from 1813.

Divine Love and Profane Love, 1813, Jose de Madrazo Y Agudo
With the paintings from the collection of Fernando's father, de Madrazo was able to reorganized the Prado Museum, cataloging the royal collections of paintings, which the king wanted to place in the new Prado Museum. In cataloging and copying  the king's collection, De Madrazo was one of the pioneers of lithography, and the first to introduce this new technique in Spain. In 1823 he was appointed Director of the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando followed by the position as director of the new Museo del Prado, a position he held until 1857 when he resigned in the face of Royal criticism. Jose de Madrazo y Agudo died in Madrid, in 1859 at the age of seventy-eight. Over the course of his lifetime, he  managed to gather a valuable private collection of paintings which, upon his death, passed to the Marquis of Salamanca and was eventually sold off.

Man in Prayer, 1812, Jose y Agudo


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