Josep Mirabent

Barcelona 1831 - 1899

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Despite being born in Barcelona, his family was originally from Sitges, and it was there he spent his first years of its life. When he was 12, he returned to the Catalan capital, where he began his artistic formation under the orders of a local painter. Josep Mirabent studied in the school of La Llotja in Barcelona, where he was a disciple of Pau Milá Fontanals, Claudi Lorenzale and Segismond Ribó, through whom he came under the influence of German Romanticism. As a decorator, he was one of the most important exponents of Catalan decorative painting of the second half of the 19th century. He participated to the decoration of the Gran Teatro del Liceo in Barcelona with Antonio Caba, Ramón Martí Alsina, Juan Vicens Cots, Agustín Rigalt, Félix Cagé and Luis Serra. He painted the eight medallions of the auditorium of the University of Barcelona, among others. He specialized in painting still-lifes of flowers and fruits. In 1855, he became professor at the Llotja and participated in numerous exhibitions where he was awarded medals and honorable mentions. He was involved in the restoration and decoration of the Café Cuyàs and in the creation of large canvases for the opera El Liceo, which was destroyed in a fire in 1861. In addition, he was awarded the gold medal at the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona in 1888. At the end of his life, he participated in the first Modernist festival in the town of Sitges. He died in 1899. Mirabent was dedicated to decorative painting and did many portraits, but his mastery was especially focused on still-lifes of flowers and fruit. The quality of the compositions meant that they were appreciated in Spain and throughout Europe, and that the name of the painter was been mentioned with admiration by many contemporary critics. In France he was baptized as the “Angel of Flowers” for his virtuosity. He presented works with fruits and flowers in several exhibitions, both in Barcelona and Madrid, as well as abroad, in Paris and London. At the 1862 Universal Exhibition in London, he exhibited a composition depicting several types of fruit found in Spain. Among the different fruits, he developed a special interest in the depiction of bunches of grapes, which he built up with a particular technique. It usually represents the fruit highlighted on a uniform background and uses the lights and shadows to model the volumes and create a powerful realistic effect. You can clearly appreciate the texture of the fruit, all the imperfections of the surface of the skin, due to his great control of the effects of light and chromatic scales. Today his work can be appreciated above all for the great decorative compositions he made, but some works are preserved in important museums such as the MNAC or the Museo del Prado.