The Spanish Painted by Themselves


Los españoles pintados por sí mismos (The Spanish painted by themselves), produced in 1843−44 by the best writers of the day, resembles the French publication Les français peint par eux-mêmes (The French painted by themselves) of 1840−42. Ignacio Boix was a central figure in Madrid’s publishing world in the mid-19th century, and this work was one of the most important publications from his press. The work reflects the romantic tendencies that highlighted personality and cultural and national identities in art. It also reflects the revival of the woodcut, which at the time evolved technically to imitate the effects achieved by pencil and ink on paper. The wood engravings are by artists Francisco Lameyer and Calixto Ortega in collaboration with Leonard Alenza. They caricature the modes of dressing and customs in a style that hints at the influence of Goya’s Los Caprichos. In 1837 Ortega was mentioned in the proceedings of the Royal Academy of San Fernando as being a notable xylographer of the time. He contributed significant work to a variety of important books, including Los Españoles pintados por sí mismos. The texts in the book are of significant literary value. They include an introduction and 99 short articles writen by such contemporary writers as Ramón de Mesonero Romanos, whose articles are “La patrona de huéspedes” (The guests’ housekeeper) and “El pretendiente” (The pretender). Both are signed with the pseudonym “El curioso parlante” (The Curious Charlatan).

Last updated: March 24, 2015