Biography of Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz (1848-1921)

Spanish painter; He was born in Villanueva de Gállego (Zaragoza) on July 24, 1848 and died in Madrid on November 1, 1921. He began his studies in Zaragoza, simultaneous classes at the Royal Academy of fine arts of San Luis with the set designer Mariano Pescador workshop attendance. We ignore the family circumstances that forced him to leave in 1861 the high school studies, in which highlighted, to get to work. Of course, it is not the orphan that is referred to occasionally, whenever his parents lived even at the end of the Decade of the seventies of the last century. Soon after, performed his first signed coracion: Opera of Meyerbeer the Huguenots, though that we do not know if he made the sketches for the complete opera (it was frequent to make decorations of previous productions, or from other works with similar locations) or, even, if such materials are preserved. In 1866, he moved to Madrid, where continues to work with dedicated theatre artists, such as Ferri and Asciugatrice while staying at relatives home. At the same time, attending classes at the school of painting and engraving, which will receive the teachings of Federico de Madrazo, Carlos Luis de Ribera and Ponciano Ponzano. Also, it is part of the newly created Association of watercolorists of Madrid and cultivated with care and dedication the this technique both in the night partnership classes and in the workshop of the painter Ramón Guerrero. In this company, it will perform various travels between 1871 and 1873 by Galicia to copy landscapes. In one of these will be when know that years later will be his wife. At the time, his watercolors begin to be of interest to collectors in Madrid.

Upon the creation in 1873 the Spanish Academy of fine arts in Rome, he is pensioned (along with Casto Plasencia). In the years of stay in Rome, working as a correspondent of the Spanish illustration and American and holds good number of paintings as the shipwreck (nude study sent from there as a work of pensioner that is not among the best of its production, although they stand out of the landscape in the background and the contrast between the two figures; picture today forms part of the funds of the city of Madrid), the portrait of Alfonso I 'El Batallador' and Alfonso V "The magnanimous" for the city of Zaragoza. However, the main work of this period is above all the well-known Doña Juana la Loca. She will get the Medal of honor in the national exhibition of 1878. Medal of honor not granted each year and only a painter got it. Pradilla that won was the first awarded since the exhibitions were created in 1856. In the same 1878, the picture is awarded at the Paris Universal and praised in Vienna and Berlin. The picture is a sample of the work of workshop that was carried out at the time: the Fund belongs to the vicinity of Lake Tresimeno in Pasignano (Italy) and the details of clothing and furniture are manicured to perfection, while the bonfires and torches, as well as in the Group of Friars that progresses from the left, nears Pradilla the impressionist technique with the use of colored spots that suggest the remoteness of the monks and the dispersion of smoke (let's not forget the importance that the author had, in general, the fire; in this case, a small study dedicated only to the effect of the fire and the smoke over the sky of the Fund which is one of their biggest hits, in the finished picture, is preserved).

At the time, the faces of the characters reflect carefully thought, since estrangement of the Queen until the boredom or tiredness, almost insolent in some cases, servers. With all this, moves Pradilla of historical painting to use to carry out a realistic approach to the historical theme. At the time, the contrast between the clothes and attitudes of the characters and the desolate winter landscape manage to make more patent pain and estrangement. The interest in the subject of the Queen of crazy love, who had to deal with several other painters and playwrights like Tamayo and Baus, shown in a sketch entitled Doña Juana "the mad" in the adarves of the Castillo de la Mota of his early years and the painting of a Doña Juana "the mad" confined in Tordesillaswhich comes from your last period and which expresses the helplessness of the Queen through the selection of cool colors, which helps the focus of winter light that illuminates the figure on the left. Staring and everyday objects placed into the hole in the window help printing of surprised intimacy of all the figure emerges. As in the rest of its production historically, much shorter than what his fame in this genre could do to think, Pradilla fundamental concern is to recreate the moment through the expression of the characters who staged it.

Juana la Loca, from Francisco Pradilla.

After the success of Doña Juana "the mad", receives the custom of painting the surrender of Granada, also well known work, for the decoration of the Palacio of the Senate, where it is still displayed. The above two pictures make immediately Pradilla in one of the most known and reputed painters in history. Accountability earned him, in addition, the Gran Cruz de Isabel la Católica. Accountability is a more static than Doña Juana, largely by the subject and the amount of familiar characters that should appear on it (the Catholic Kings own, Boabdil, Prince don Juan, the great captain, the Inquisitor Torquemada, etc.). However, Pradilla gave good examples of his talent in the choice of different colors for the main characters, as well as the inclusion of details that, as in the case of the courtiers of Doña Juana, lend variety to the scene. stresses in this respect the expression of the great captain, who jokes with the ladies of the Queen who will be escorting. The faces of the ladies, caught in the middle of the conversation, is also clearly independent from one another. In the background of the scene, landscape granadino, studied by the painter himself onstage, presents a few naturalistic touches that away again the work of usual historical topic pictures Pradilla at the time. A third large-format historical painting was El Suspiro del Moro which again dealt pradilla in the taking of Granada, while in this case from the perspective of the banished Boabdil overlooking their city the last look.

The picture was the result of a particular custom - although some sources erroneously point the custom split of the Ateneo madrileño - by a Russian Tycoon and, to the death of another Chilean who, in turn, gave rights to a third party that argued the painter, angry at not being taken into account for the transaction. The pararero of this picture, which because of its size is difficult to hide, well let us conserve of the photographic reproduction that shows the simplicity of the composition, in which Boabdil of backs and white dress, seen from a high his city is today unknown. In the Centre of the composition a white horse, the one of Boabdil, subject by a servant, whose mane agitates the same wind that moves the garments of the last King of Granada.

Between 1881 and 1883, was director of the Academy of Rome, though reluctantly, because his elusive and surly temperament did little suitable for this position. After cesar in office with a futile excuse, it remains in the Italian capital until 1897, year in which accepts the address of the Museo del Prado and returns to Spain. They are the years in which their friendship deepens with Joaquín Sorolla, who had settled in Italy after concluding their pensioner at the Academy. His pictorial work is constant. The exhibition of the Academy of Rome in 1884 displays his Aragon Court celebrating floral games. Other pictures from this period are grape pickers in the Pontine marshes, the path of the sanctuary or Venetian scenes. In 1886, an economic bankruptcy ends with peace of mind: will need to paint to redo their situation and support his family. Correspondence with Sorolla testifies us concerns at this time.

Upon his return, it remains little time in the direction of the Prado, which replaced Palmaroli. Its management also seems to have been particularly good: let out some background of interest that went on sale at that time at good price and had to suffer some robbery at pinacoteca by House staff. After leaving office, he settled in Madrid and dedicated himself to painting, the only thing that truly cared, until his death. His last years were spent almost isolated: no she turned to public events and rejected many invitations received. The location of his workshop, in what was then the outskirts of Madrid, contributed to this isolation which, in any way, meant the abandonment of brushes. On the contrary, it is known that even five days before his death had a session with five models. His painting was highly valued at the time, to the extent that its name was used, without their consent, for illustrations of a Deluxe Edition of the legends of Zorrilla.

He was a member of the Royal Academies of fine arts of San Fernando in Madrid and San Luis de Zaragoza, the Académie française and of the Hispanic Society of New York. Also, be granted a cited Grand Cross of Isabel the Catholic and the Legion of Honor with the rank of Knight. Due to having obtained its first presence in the national exhibition highest award, only attended to another more, that of 1892, in which the surrender of Granada was exhibited on the occasion of the fourth centenary of this event. It seems that the lonely mood of the painter was the main reason for this apartment of national exhibitions, which were not uncommon the favoritism and clashes within the jury. It also declined the offer that was made to participate in the decoration of San Francisco el Grande, one of the paintings that more importance was given at that time, arguing that he was painting the surrender in Italy and that it could not moving to Madrid to paint al fresco one of the vaults. By managers of the decoration, we must conclude that they not insisted on the presence of Pradilla, best painter of history that almost all those who carried out the aforementioned decoration. Serve as the button shows his international success the success achieved at the Universal exhibition in Berlin, where he was the only award-winning Spanish, where he earned the Medal of honor by mass outdoor in the pilgrimage of the Guide (Vigo). In 1892 he was appointed an honorary member of the Academy of painting in Munich.

Its success was great both in Spain and in the rest of Europe and sigularmente in Germany, where his landscape work (the most abundant of its production) was in its time favorite of the French Impressionists and where it is credited by one of the best landscape designers in Europe.

Pradilla is huge (several thousands including notes and sketches, as noted by his son) and she highlights, along with pictures of historical painting, converted to canonical images of acts of Spanish history that show, multitude of paintings of small format in which native often is limited to capture a detail (a light(, a stormy sky, sensations of color, etc.), almost as if it intended to use the material for larger works, thus study of fire to Doña Juana "the mad". Frequently, took notes of the natural areas he liked especially during a season (thus the Pontine marshes near Rome or the Monasterio de Piedra in Zaragoza) then develop the pictures in the Studio. It is the case of pictures such as the reading of Anacreon or passing Brook, belonging to his last time or emigrants from autumn in the country Pontino, of your stage Roman. It was also prominent portrait artist (thus the sober and beautiful portrait of Lidia Pradilla) and collaborated on decorations as the of Madrid's Palace of the Marquis of Linares, today Casa de América, which conducted fourteen paintings on canvas which is then fixed to the wall according to the custom of the time,. The ups and downs of this Palace, closed and uninhabited for years, has allowed to retain a decorative set which otherwise would have perished as it did with those carried out in the Palace of the Dukes of Santoña or infanta Isabel, subject to the change of decorative fashions. The success of Pradilla made his work to scatter throughout Europe and America, which has made fruitless all attempts to establish a full catalogue of his production. In this regard, the impossibility of finding the whereabouts of paintings of the scale of the latest Suspiro del Moro previously mentioned is remarkable.

Despite the almost constant use of oil in the study and their refusal to paint the fresco, Pradilla highlighted by its technical experimentalism, especially as far as the field of watercolor refers. In addition, highlighted by its uncommon control of drawing. On the basis of late romanticism, Pradilla will assimilate the innovations of the Impressionists and the beauty of the Italian painting to his own style.


Garcia branch, Ana and LORANCA-GARCIA, J. Ramon; Life and work of Francisco Pradilla. Zaragoza, Caja de Ahorros de Zaragoza, Aragon and Rioja, 1987.

RINCON GARCIA, Wilfredo; Francisco Padilla. Madrid, Cipsa, 1987.

G Fernández San Emeterio