TEN GREAT SPANISH PAINTERS: From El Greco to Dalí

In this video, the works of ten great geniuses of Spanish painting, such as El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Picasso or Dalí will be selected and discussed.

 

EL GRECO (1541 – 1614)

 

El Greco, originally from the Greek island of Crete – hence his name “The Greek” – lived during the Renaissance period, first in Venice and Rome, and later in Toledo. His work has transcended time, even influencing Impressionism.

The Burial of the Count of Orgaz is an example of his Mannerist style, using thin figures with long faces in an atmosphere especially lit to represent a miracle when Saint Stephen and Saint Agustín descended from heaven to bury the Count because of his exemplary life, his humility and the charitable work he carried out.

 

The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

The Church of Saint Tomé (Toledo)

 

RIBERA (1591-1652)

 

José de Ribera, born in Játiva, decided to move to Naples during the Spanish Viceroyalty, which occurred at a time of commercial opulence, encouraging artistic patronage. Known as “The Spaniard”, he signed many of his paintings as “Giuseppe, The Spaniard”.

The painting The Bearded Woman depicts the Neapolitan Maria Ventura with symptoms of masculinization; following the style of Caravaggio, he uses intense forms of light and shadow which brings a great sense of humanity to the painting.

 

The Bearded Woman

The Prado Museum (Madrid)

 

VELAZQUEZ (1599-1660)

 

Diego Velázquez, born in Sevilla, was the court painter of Felipe IV and the most important artist of the Spanish Golden Age. His mastery of portraits was unqualified. His journeys to Italy were a major influence on the evolution of his painting, a perfect example of the Baroque style.

In Las Meninas, his most famous work of large dimensions, he’s able to ‘paint the air’, with a deep study of perspective. The painting depicts the family of King Felipe IV. The central character is the Infanta Margarita of Austria, accompanied by her servants, “las meninas” (maids of honour). Velázquez includes himself behind the canvas he’s painting on. The King and his wife Mariana of Austria are reflected in the mirror.

 

Las Meninas (The Maids of Honour)

The Prado Museum (Madrid)

 

ZURBARÁN (1598-1664)

 

The Extremaduran painter Francisco de Zurbarán, friend and contemporary of Velázquez, is known for a tenebrist style, due to the contrast of light and shadow in his paintings of religious themes and monastic life.

The Immaculate Conception contains references to the attributes of a Virgin child, of about 12 or 13 years old, with flowing blonde hair, crowned with twelve stars and held aloft by a quarter moon. At her feet appears the city of Seville.

 

The Immaculate Conception

Diocesano of Sigüenza Museum (Segovia)

 

MURILLO (1617-1682)

 

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, born in Sevilla like Velázquez, was one of the most important painters of the Spanish Baroque period. With his style he heralds what would become the Rococo style. He was a master of the tenebrist and chiaroscuro techniques.

The painting of the Saints Justa and Rufina shows two young women , daughters of a potter, who were martyred in the III century AD in Seville on the orders of the Roman prefect.. The young women are holding the Giralda in Seville because during the earthquake of 1504, when it stayed upright, the miracle was attributed to them. On the floor are shown clay pitchers, in allusion to the family business.

 

Saints Justa and Rufina

Museum of Fine Art (Seville)

 

GOYA (1746-1828)

 

Francisco de Goya, born in Fuentetodos (province of Zaragoza), is one of the great masters in the history of worldwide art: his work encompasses easel painting and murals, etching and drawing. It reflects the turbulent historical period that he lived through, such as the Spanish War of Independence from France.

The Charge of the Mamluks depicts the uprising of the Madrid population against Napoleon’s army that took place on 2nd May 1808. The movements of the horses and the different characters give the painting a dynamic feel, at the same time as a sense of realism shown by the fallen bodies and rivers of blood.

 

The Charge of the Mamluks

The Prado Museum (Madrid)

 

FORTUNY (1838-1874)

 

Mariano Fortuny, born in Catalonia, was one of the most influential painters of the XIX century. Despite his premature death at the age of 35, his traditional style defined by painstaking drawing, luminosity and brilliant colours, meant his paintings became internationally renowned.

In The Choice of the Model, a good example of his precious style, we can see a group of academics dressed in the fashion of the day, choosing a beautiful model, who is standing on a table with a spotlight outlining her silhouette. The scene takes place in the Colonna Palace in Rome.

 

The Choice of the Model

The Corcoran Gallery (Washington)

 

SOROLLA (1863-1923)

 

The Valencian painter Joaquin Sorolla is characterized by his luminist style, very similar to Impressionism. The majority of his work takes place outdoors. It depicts daily life and Mediterranean
landscapes dominated by light.

In his Portrait of Alfonso XIII, he shows the King in real size, in the gardens of the Palace of the Granja of San Ildefonso, wearing the uniform of a Hussar in the colourful and luminous style of Spanish Impressionism.

 

Portrait of Alfonso XIII

National Heritage

 

PICASSO (1881-1973)

 

Pablo Picasso, born in Malaga but shaped as a painter in Barcelona and Paris, is perhaps the most significant painter of the XX century. From his beginnings in figurative painting to his blue and pink periods, he opened the way for the avant-garde, creating the Cubist style in which the shapes of nature are transformed by means of geometric figures.

In The Young Ladies of Avignon, the trailblazer for Cubism, he paints five women in a brothel in Barcelona whose naked bodies become a collection of angular drawings, more noticeable the more to the right of the painting they are situated.

 

The Young Ladies of Avignon

Museum of Modern Art (New York)

 

DALÍ (1904-1989)

 

Salvador Dalí, born in Figueras, was a multifaceted artist, standing out not only in painting but also in sculpture, stage design and literature. His extravagant personality and visionary imagination made him famous throughout the world. He was one of the main exponents of the surrealist style.

In his painting Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee he depicts Gala, his wife and muse, levitating in a maritime landscape where dreams stemming from outside events are introduced. 

 

Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bee

Thyssen Museum (Madrid)

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