RAIMUNDO DE MADRAZO

Roma, 1841 – Versailles, 1920

Lady laying in a divan

Oil on canvas

47 x 68 cm

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The year after Raimundo was born, the Madrazo family moved from Rome to Madrid. From his childhood, the painter assiduously attends the famous studies of his grandfather, José de Madrazo and his father Federico de Madrazo - whom he would always consider as his best teacher[1] -. Protected by his illustrious last name, but also by his undeniable talent, he soon joined the Higher School of Painting and Sculpture in Madrid.

In 1855 he travelled to Paris - accompanied by his father - to visit the Universal Exhibition, where he experienced his first direct contact with international pictorial trends. In addition, take the opportunity to copy the drawings of the windows of the Sainte Chapelle, designed by Ingres. Back in Madrid, he resumed his studies and painted his first painting: The transfer of the remains of the Apostle Santiago, very much in the purist romantic line[2].

Later, in 1862, he settled definitively in Paris. There he studied at Léon Cogniet, the School of Fine Arts and the Imperial School of Drawing. In the capital of art, he befriends other Spaniards such as Joaquín María Herrer and landscape architect Martín Rico, with whom he travels through the main museums; highlighting the Louvre, where he will copy the Venetian masters[3]. As he consolidates his position as a portraitist in Paris, he makes a trip to London where he permeates the English variants of the genre.

In 1865 he returns to Spain and visits Toledo, reaffirming his passion for El Greco, of whom he will make several copies. In the same way, in Madrid by Goya's work, also reproducing some of his works. From the hand of his great friend and brother-in-law Mariano Fortuny he moved to Granada in 1872. A stage of incessant activity for both painters - influencing each other - where we observe a penchant for the landscape in Madrazo's work, whose refined qualities remind us of those of Fortuny.

The influence of Catalan is prolonged in his later work, with gender compositions influenced by "Japonism"; which he combines with his famous portraits, always personal, that evolve towards an increasingly impressionistic line. Such is the proximity between both painters, that, after the death of Fortuny, Madrazo will be one of the organizers of the sale of his brother-in-law's goods at the Hotel Drouot in Paris in 1875.

1878 will be a year of great recognition for Raimundo de Madrazo, receiving the first medal in the Universal Exhibition of Paris, as well as the badge of the Legion of Honor. Two years later he was appointed corresponding academic in France, and in 1884 he was granted a special room in the Hall, by the French Government.

Cosmopolitan artist, from the last decade of the century travels to the United States and Argentina, where he would achieve great success by portraying the elites. The result of this incessant American activity is his appointment in 1905 as a member of the Hispanic Society of New York, to which he donates an important collection of his works[4].

In the work presented here, we greatly appreciate the enormous refinement that consolidated Raymond of Madrazo as one of the main painters of the "great world" in the Paris of the Belle Epoque. Through the eastern censer of the foreground, we introduce ourselves - as spectators - in an intimate and enveloping scene in which a lady, lying on a couch, watches her dogs at the other end of the composition.

With a very refined technique, it presents great chromatic delicacy, according to the softness of the modeling, as well as the elegance and aristocratism of the protagonist. The diagonal arrangement of the young woman is used intelligently by the painter to recreate plastically in the fall of the folds of the dress, as well as in the sheets of a book of prints that clutter over her.

The preciousness in the tactile qualities of the foregrounds contrast with the sketched character of the background, in which a Japanese print is figurated. A loose execution, a prelude to Impressionism, that characterizes the work of Raimundo de Madrazo as he assimilates the technique of his brother-in-law, Mariano Fortuny - who, in addition, was especially influenced by Japaneseism.

In any case, the Fortuny footprint is also evident in the decorative sense of this interior scene, as well as in its meticulous invoice and in its descriptive character. The result is as anecdotal as it is delicious, capable of satisfying the hedonistic desires of the bourgeois clientele of the end of the century; who demanded these frivolous scenes in order to bring an exotic and luxurious note to their new urban widening apartments.

[1] SÁNCHEZ TRIGUEROS, J.A.: Concha Barrios y la pintura española del S.XIX. Diez años de exposiciones: 1978-1988, Galería Concha Barrios,  Madrid, 1988.

[2] Ibídem.

[3]Ibídem.

[4] SÁNCHEZ TRIGUEROS, J.A.: Concha Barrios y la pintura española del S.XIX. Diez años de exposiciones: 1978-1988, Galería Concha Barrios,  Madrid, 1988.

Technical data

RAIMUNDO DE MADRAZO

Roma, 1841 – Versailles, 1920

Lady laying in a divan

Oil on canvas

47 x 68 cm

Private collection, Madrid