JOSÉ GALLEGOS Y ARNOSA

Jerez de la Frontera, 1857 - Anzio, 1917

The Procession

Oil on canvas

74 x 119

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José Gallegos y Arnosa arrives in Madrid at the age of sixteen, with a sponsored by Mr. Guillermo Garvey. Here he obtains access to the San Fernando School of Fine Arts, and subsequently to the teachings of Federico de Madrazo. In 1878 he moved to Rome where he attended the classes of the Chigi Academy and those of the International Circle of Fine Arts.       

The following year he moved to Tangier, encouraged by the current of Orientalist painting and, in particular, by the influence of José Villegas.[1] Due to his stay - and Gallegos complete adaptation to the Moroccan life - is the work Booty of War, with which he obtains a third class medal in the National Exhibition of 1884.[2] Installed in Rome, Gallegos continues with orientalism, sending works of this genre to the exhibitions of the Bosch and Hernandez Galleries, as well as those organized by the Circle of Fine Arts.

In the mid-eighties, he toured Italy accompanied by his great friend - and fellow countryman - Salvador Sánchez Barbudo. Both use the trip to visit churches, cathedrals and basilicas, which led to the awakening of a new theme in their production of these years: the "monaguillismo" and other variants of the genre. [3] It is in this current, where we must frame the work that we present here, which reflects in great detail the liturgy and the concurrence of a procession in Venice.

These ecclesiastical subjects provided the painter with considerable success, frequently participating in Roman and international exhibitions. Precisely, the greatest milestone of his career is produced at the International Exhibition of Fine Arts in Berlin in 1891, where he is awarded the gold medal for his work Wedding in the Sacristy of the Cathedral of Seville.[4]

At the end of the century – influenced, again, by Villegas –, he devotes himself to bullfighting themes, for which he decides to return to Spain. He will remain in his hometown until 1906, when he returns to Italy. He dies in Anzio in 1917.[5]

In the painting analyzed here, Gallegos offers clear samples of his virtuosity as a painter, faithfully capturing the sacredness and exaltation of a religious procession. The composition is established in two planes - upper and lower - clearly divided by the bridge that stands in the center of the scene.        

Without doubt, the duality raised by the painter in the attitudes of those attending the event is interesting. And yet, if the participants on the bridge transmit solemnity and containment, displaying all kinds of liturgical elements; those below, mounted on gondolas, ooze jubilation and celebration.

The union between both planes has been achieved masterfully, through the use of a flock of pigeons that flies agitatedly, giving the scene great dynamism and a certain photographic instantaneity.

Regarding the theme represented, the presence of the temporary wooden bridge leads us to place the work at the Festa del Redentore in Venice. A celebration that, since 1577, commemorates the divine grace received by the city to end the plague. At the request of the Doge, the promise was made that every year a procession would take place until the Church of the Redeemer, - designed by Palladio - for which a votive bridge is built annually.

[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] See: Diario oficial de avisos de Madrid, nº 165 del 13 de junio de 1884, p.1.

[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.

[5] Ibídem.

José Gallegos

Technical data

JOSÉ GALLEGOS Y ARNOSA

Jerez de la Frontera, 1857 - Anzio, 1917

The Procession

Oil on canvas

74 x 119

Private collection, Madrid