JOSÉ JIMENEZ ARANDA

Seville, 1837 – 1903, Seville

Notices from war

Oil on panel

54 x 70 cm

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José Jiménez Aranda begins his training at the School of Fine Arts in Seville, receiving his first lessons from the hand of Antonio Cabral Bejarano, Manuel Barrón and Eduardo Cano, among other romantics. He officially presents himself as a painter at the National Exhibition of 1864, where he attends with four oil paintings, receiving a special honourable mention. He repeats participation in the National of 1867 "with some works of Murcian influence - who he had to copy in the Museum of Seville - and various sketches related to episodes of Don Quixote anticipating his love of the subject"[1]

From late 1867 to 1869, he moved to Jerez de la Frontera where he collaborated in the restoration of the windows of San Miguel. A room where you will also delve into two of the genres that will distinguish you as a painter: portrait and custom. "He returns to Seville continuing on the line undertaken and incorporating other genre issues, [...] whose samples he sends to the National of 1871 [being awarded a] third medal"[2].

Following in the footsteps of Fortuny, Jiménez Aranda positioned himself in Rome in 1871. His close relationship with the teacher at this stage is evidenced by the fact that Fortuny "acquires God to keep the king for the Stewart collector." Influenced by the Catalan, the main driver in Spain of the painting of ‘casacones’, Jiménez Aranda excels in the genre - to which the painting studied here belongs. Thus, it will be in these studies where our painter achieves excellence, demonstrating his unique virtuosity as a cartoonist, as well as his correct compositional sense.

After spending some time in Valencia, in 1876 he returns to Seville where the formula of the ‘casacón’ continues, which already dominates perfectly. His aspiration for a more international projection materializes in 1881 when he decides to move to Paris - world art capital during those years - where his works had received a pleasant welcome. It is to this Parisian stage that the work we present here belongs, whose most polished and precious bill reflects a clear influence of Meissonier and, especially, of Gérôme; both pioneers in these historicist works of small format. Within the framework of this international career of Jiménez Aranda, it is necessary to mention his successful participation in the Universal Exhibition of Paris (1878), in the Parisian Salon (1879) and in the International of Munich (1883), where he received the medal of honor.

In 1890 he returned to Spain to settle in Madrid, there he began to show a greater social conscience, with works such as A misfortune, with which he won the first medal in the National of 1890. A realistic and raw trend - diametrically opposed to the "Friendliness" of the ‘casacones’ - which we also observe in the production of Sorolla during this decade.

In 1892 he returned to Seville where he emerged as an illustrator, highlighting his collaboration in the collective volume El Quijote del Centenario. He will also teach at the School of Fine Arts, closing the circle of his artistic career wherever he had started.

The panel object of this study presents all the characteristics of the genre of casacones, very much in vogue in the artistic market of the late nineteenth century: a reduced format - suitable for new urban homes -, a fine bill and an anecdotal theme set in another weather. Specifically, we observe with great detail a palace interior of the 18th century, according to the new trends "neorrococós" of the moment.

However, experts such as Carlos Reyero find a more psychological background in these evocations of the Old Regime so demanded by the end of century bourgeoisie: “[There is] something of the nostalgia of the next ancestor, of feeling heir to those princes and aristocrats who lived happily in a prerevolutionary world, without knowing the fragility of modern times” [3].

The game, by the painter, is posed by contrast between this sumptuousness - in space or in the clothing of the characters -, with the apparent inconsequence of the chosen theme. A casual scene in which the expressive naturalness of the characters prevails, as well as the interaction between them and not a studied scenography and rigid composition.

That is why, despite the historicism of the subject, we cannot deny the modernity of Jiménez Aranda in this work, in which an interesting dichotomy between the medium and the mode is produced. That is, between a grandiloquent environment and an anecdotal event starring six characters that interact with each other naturally and daily; without the slightest hint of "apparatus" or forced pose - as if it had been characteristic of the eighteenth century or of Academicism. Specifically, we can highlight the central figure - reading - and that of his right - listening - whose composition is very similar to that used by the painter in a later work: The reading of the Gazette[4], which was acquired and sold by the Concha Barrios gallery.   

A freshness of movements, gestures and looks that give instantaneity to the scene and that leads us to propose a possible influence of the recent photography, as an instrument of support for the painter in the study of his models.

[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] REYERO, C.: “Pintura, fama y dinero en tiempos de José Jiménez Aranda” en José Jiménez Aranda (1837-1903), Centro Cultural El Monte, Sevilla, 2005, p.143.

[4] Pantorba, 1972, nº 128.

Technical data

JOSÉ JIMENEZ ARANDA

Seville, 1837 – 1903, Seville

Notices from war

Oil on panel

54 x 70 cm

Private collection, Madrid