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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Seven A: The Royal Academy of Fine Arts

Entrance to the Royal Academy of Art, Madrid

The Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando was established by royal decree in 1744, and it is the headquarters of the Madrid Academy of Art as well as an art museum.

It is very important in the history of Spanish art because Francisco Goya was once one of its directors, and it was attended by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, as well as several other important artists.
Old Masters

El Greco, 1541-1614

El Greco was the first painter working in Spain to achieve major status in the history of art.

As his name indicates, he was Greek; he trained in art in Italy, where he became a master before moving to Toledo, Spain. He made the rest of his career in Toledo, and did his best work there.

The 1500s was a very religious period in Spain, and El Greco painted many saints. Since the people he portrayed were historical, or mythic characters, he had to use his imagination. His portrayals are remarkably sympathetic and naturalistic.

El Greco, 1541-1614
Saint Jerome, c. 1600

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1618-1682

Murillo was a Spanish Baroque painter.

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1618-1682
St. Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, c. 1646

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 1618-1682
San Diego de Alcalá with Beggars, c. 1646
  • The painting above depicts a story in which Saint Diego was given the task of feeding the poor. He was said to have kept the stew-pot full through prayer.

Francisco Goya, 1746-1828

Goya was a Spanish painter of the Romantic era of the late 1700s and early 1800s who went to work for the royal court in the 1770s. He was a contemporary of Jacques-Louis David in France.

Though his main job was to depict royalty—many examples hang in the Prado—he excelled at depicting pastimes and popular entertainments.

Since he was one of the directors of the Academy, they have some important examples of his work.

Francisco de Goya, 1746-1828
Self-portrait at Easel, 1785-1790
Photo by Dan L. Smith, 2015

Francisco de Goya, 1746-1828
The Burial of the Sardine, c. 1814
  • This painting shows a celebration of death, similar to the Mexican Day of the Dead, on the first day of Lent. The main figures are wearing costumes and masks.

Francisco de Goya, 1746-1828
Self-portrait, 1815
Photo by Dan L. Smith

Art of the 20th Century

Joaquín Sorolla, 1863-1923

Sorolla was the next giant of Spanish art after Goya, during the period of Post-Impressionism.

Joaquín Sorolla, 1863-1923
Bathing at the Beach, 1908

The Museum of the Royal Academy was exhibiting several excellent paintings from the 20th century by artists who are not well known on the international art scene.

No biographical information is given with the artists below because you are unlikely to ever see these names again. The purpose of this display is to show you several gorgeous works that you would only see in Spain.

Santiago Rusiñol, 1861-1931
Mountain Garden, 1904
Eduardo Martínez Vázquez, 1886-1971
Spring in Gredos, 1931
Antonio López Torres, 1902-1987
Olives in Mallorca, 1941
José Vela Zanetti, b. 1923
Portrait of Fideladelfo, Milagros’ Blacksmith, 1984

Key Points

Three important Old Masters of Spanish art are El Greco, Murillo, and Goya.

Sorolla was the most important Post-Impressionist of Spanish art.

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