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MAXAM Foundation - MAXAM Collection - Artists - Romero de Torres, Julio

Romero de Torres, Julio

Romero de Torres, Julio
Córdoba, 1874 - 1930
Córdoba, 1874 - 1930

At the tender age of ten he began his training in art at the Fine Arts School of his city of birth (Cordoba) where his father, landscape painter Rafael Romero de Torres, was the director, as well as curator of the Cordoba Museum.

At an early age he learned about the artistic currents which were emerging at that time (impressionism, symbolism, pre-Raphaelism), and he began painting costumbrista works with a ‘luminist atmosphere’ and practicing the "Sorollista" realism of the late nineteenth century. The Generation of ‘98 already saw him as the renovator of painting who would reflect with unrivalled subtlety the elements typical of society and thought of the time.

He was awarded an honorary distinction at the 1895 National Exhibition for his work ¡Mira qué bonita era! (Look how Beautiful It Was!), and after participating in the 1899 edition he won third prize in 1904. In 1906, the jury rejected his Vividoras del amor (Bonnes Viveures of Love), making the affluence of visitors to the rejection room considerably greater than that of the exhibition itself.

Also in 1906 he moved to Madrid to pursue his desire for renewal and further extend his knowledge. In 1907, with his brother Enrique and poet Guillermo Belmonte Muller, he decided to travel to Morocco, England, France, Belgium and Italy, and he was particularly impressed by this last country. It was then that he began to acquire his symbolist accent which was eventually to define his style.

He is the quintessential painter of Spanish women, gypsies and Andalusian popular culture, which he combines with modernist influences with the lyrical exaltation of the themes of his birthplace. The aesthetic symbiosis between sensual carnality and austere mysticism, a merging of beauty, melancholy and mystery, was key to developing this particular style with which, in the words of the famous Spanish folk song, Romero de Torres painted the brunette, mystery in her eyes, torment in her soul.

He won first prize at the 1908 National Exhibition, and in the International Exhibition held in Barcelona in 1911 with his Retablo del amor (Retable of Love). In two of the six canvases in this personal interpretation of the Annunciation, verging on the irreverent, the painter presented Mary, using the model Ana Moyano, absolutely naked.

His failure to win the medal of honour in 1912 led his admirers to give him a gold medal sculpted by Julio Antonio. And having received the top prize in the International Exhibition in Munich in 1913, and again failing to receive any award at the National Exhibition in 1915, he decided not to enter this patriotic event ever again.

A member of the Royal Academy of Cordoba and the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, he moved permanently to the capital in 1916 after being appointed tenured professor of vestment at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving. His studio soon became a centre of meetings and literary debate frequented by artists and authors such as Rubén Darío, Valle-Inclán, Gregorio Marañón, Pérez Galdós, Jacinto Benavente, Ignacio Zuloaga and Manuel Machado, to name but a few.

Thenceforward, his work represented Spain at various International exhibitions in Paris, London and elsewhere. His definitive consecration came in 1922 with the huge enthusiasm with which the public greeted his work in Buenos Aires. This popular acclaim continued at his many individual exhibitions the world over, some especially significant, such as the Ibero-American Exhibition in Seville in 1929.

Influenced by the French current of poster art as a means of advertising, he made four paintings to illustrate the calendars of Unión Española de Explosivos. In three of them he used his favourite models of the time: Seville dancer Elisa Muñiz "Amarantina" lit the fuse with her cigarette in the 1924 edition; Elena Pardo, a chorus girl at the Teatro Romea in Madrid, leaned languidly on the shotgun in the 1929 calendar; and Carmen Gabucio, the Mexican girl which he made into La Virgen de los Faroles (Our Lady of the Lanterns), lit the rocket in 1931. His contribution to the MAXAM Collection was completed with Mujer con pistola (Woman with Pistol) in 1925. All were immodest women, full of passion and a far cry from the conventionalisms of the time.

His extensive work encompasses more than five hundred portraits, including personalities from the world of Flamenco singing, such as Pastora Imperio and Machaquito, politicians, literary figures and society personalities like the bullfighter Juan Belmonte.

Always with close ties to Cordoba, his city honoured him in 1936 by opening the Julio Romero de Torres Museum, with many works donated by heirs and collectors. Its current director, Mercedes Valverde, says that "...He was a versatile painter who was skilled in all styles and tendencies, and an indefatigable worker. The magnitude of his painting is a unique example of creative capacity".


1924, Romero de Torres, Julio

Lighting the fuse
Oil on canvas
63,50x40,50 cm.

1925, Romero de Torres, Julio

A woman with a gun
Oil on canvas
52x34,50 cm.

1929, Romero de Torres, Julio

Hunting shotgun
Oil on canvas
63x37,50 cm.

1931, Romero de Torres, Julio

The rocket
Oil on canvas
63,50x37 cm.


Last update 2021.06.21
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