Ramon Casas

Barcelona 1866 - 1932

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He is the painter par excellence of Catalan Modernism, representative of the pictorial renewal imported from Paris. At only 15 years old, he leaves for Paris to study at Carolus Duran's workshop. In 1883, he exhibited Self-portrait dressed as a flamenco at the Champ de Mars Salon, a work that allowed him to become a member of the Société d'Artistes Français. Tireless traveler, he completes his training in Granada and Madrid (1884-1885). In 1890, attracted by the bohemia of Montmartre, he settled in Paris with Santiago Rusiñol in a studio near the Moulin de la Galette. It was at this time that his works "in gray paint" consolidated him as a great painter. Back in Barcelona, he resumed painting portraits and, looking for new pictorial settings, frequented Sitges. Casas becomes a participant in the first and third Modernist Festivals. In 1890, he shows his work in the Sala Parés, with the Rusiñol and Enric Clarasó tandem (exhibition that would be repeated in 1891 and 1893). Casas was involved with his works in the sociopolitical problems of the time and his painting shows criticism of events with works such as "Vile Garrote" (1894), "Embarking of troopes on Cuba" (1896) or "Departure of the procession from Santa María del Mar" ( 1898) or "The Load" (1899), exhibited at the Salon des Beaux Arts in 1903, with the title of Barcelona 1902. At the same time, he leaned towards a more suggestive painting – the “chulas” or bullfighting themes – which he presented at the Salon du Champ de Mars (1896). In 1897, the Els Quatre Gats venue was inaugurated, inspired by Le Chat Noir in Paris, and Casas was one of the initiators: exhibitions and literary evenings were organized, artistic-musical meetings and Chinese shadow shows as well as a publication with the same name. Casas was also the promoter of the creation of the two Catalan modernist magazines: Pèl i Ploma (1899-1903) and Forma (1904-1907). In 1900, Casas spent a longer period in Paris. The main motif of his compositions were modern, young and elegant female figures, which led him shortly after to decorate the hall of the Círculo del Liceo (1902). Consolidated as a great portraitist, in 1904 he painted the portrait of King Alfonso XIII. Among his extensive pictorial production, female portraits have a special role. One of his favorite models was undoubtedly Júlia Peraire i Ricarte (Sant Martí de Provençals, 1888 – Barcelona, 1941), the beautiful lottery seller in Barcelona's Plaza de Cataluña, whom Casas met at the social gathering at the Maison Doree. The artist repeatedly portrays her muse, capturing her figure in oil paintings, drawings and posters. Dazzled by her features, personality and youth, after several years of living together, they married in 1922. In 1908, Casas traveled to the United States invited by the American millionaire collector and philanthropist, Charles Deering, whom he had met in 1903. That stay lasted six months, which allowed him to visit New York, Washington, Pasadena, Los Angeles, Miami and Cuba. Casas helped Charles Deering in the creation of the Maricel de Sitges and in the reconstruction and adaptation as a residence of the castle of Tamarit.