Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Victor Patricio Landaluze (1830-1889)


...El primero que ha penetrado la esencia cubana y se ha arraigado espiritualmente en el pueblo mismo, como es y vive, fue Don Víctor Patricio de Landaluze, peninsular de nacimiento, pero mentalmente y por su predilección cubano aplatanado.

Su influencia como inspirador de sus sucesores hasta los pintores contemporáneos de Cuba es enorme y siempre creciente, aunque concentrada en lo temático y folklórico. ... F. Calcagno en su diccionario biográfico, New York, 1878, dice sobre Landaluze: “Notable caricaturista peninsular y regular pintor de escenas de costumbre. En 1862 fundó Don Junípero, satírico y caricaturista, en el año 1881 ilustró la obra Tipos y Costumbres de la Isla de Cuba”...

Though born in the Basque region of Spain, Victor Landaluze became one of Cuba's finest colonial painters. He came to Cuba in 1863, and became well known for his caricatures and humorist drawings. Unlike the generation of Vanguard artists which emerged shortly after his death, Landaluze had no interest in "national" painting. However, much of his art was politically or socially driven, and he still managed to capture the essence of Cuban national characters.
Once Landaluze settled in Havana, he worked as an illustrator for the magazine "El Almendares". His work as an illustrator and popular caricaturist leaves the possibility for many of his sketches to still be in existence today.

Landaluze illustrated for a number of magazines, including the Charanga and the Muza Moor. He would create watercolors or lithographs for these magazines as well, and the number of these sketches could are unknown. Landaluze also became the founder of the newspaper Don Junipero, which was a satirical publication.

When Landaluze was not sketching for magazines, he was documenting Afro-Cuban lifestyles in his art. Locals in wild costumes, servants and people in leisurely period costume were typical studies for Landaluze. His interest in Cuban folklore shined through in his paintings. Due to his European roots and training, this would create a very interesting look of old world meets island heritage.
Though scenery would play a part in his compositions, generally, Landaluze was not a landscape painter. When he was painting scenery though, he would generally focus on the sugar mills of the rural regions.

A highly noticeable painter, Landaluze would stereotype the rural farmer and came to create national images for the people of Cuba. These images remain today, such as the slave, the rich farmer, the country man, the carriage driver and the nanigo.

Landaluze even capitalized on the banana and the guira tree to create lasting imagery. Through his use of characters, Landaluze created the Liborio, which has become a lasting image of the Cuban people.

One thing that is particularly interesting is Landaluze's range as an artist. Not only could Landaluze create commercial cartoon sketches, but beautiful Realistic paintings. Even his subject matter varied from landscape backgrounds to interiors. Though his work was primarily focused on creating cartoons and sketches, he was able to create extraordinary oil paintings documenting Cuban life in the colonial era.

Landaluze's artwork, more than any other artist, documented the costuming of people that lived on this island nation during the 19th century. Most painters at that time only did portraits of nobility or landscapes...Landaluze would use the common man in his sketches, as well as the elite. Through his parody sketches and etchings, we best see what people really looked like and wore back then from the aristocrats to the Afro-Cubans to the native farmers.

Though his artwork created in Cuba is widely known, his artwork while living in Europe is not. It is not known if and when he ever returned to his Spanish homeland, but the possibility of his art still existing there is tremendous. He certainly must have received his training there, and in turn, would have produced a great number of works. What were they like? Did he draw caricatures then? He lived in Spain until he was well into his thirties, so it is highly likely that his work is owned in private collections in Spain. Perhaps some of his sketches are stuffed between the pages of books or in an old desk, waiting for someone to find this lost treasure.

Today, Landaluze's paintings are housed at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Cuba.


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  2. El padre del costumbrismo cubano. Espléndido