Josep Maria Tamburini

Barcelona 1856 - 1932

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Tamburini was born on December 4, 1856, into a wealthy family in Barcelona. From a very young age he discovered his preference for drawing, possibly because of his family relationship with the Masriera painters, and he enrolled in the Lonja Academy of Fine Arts. In 1870, to escape yellow fever, he moved to Olot, a city in inland Catalonia where other artists converged, including Joaquín Vayreda, Modest Urgell, Josep Lluís Pellicer and Antoni Caba, who would be his painting teacher at the Lonja School. In the mid-1970s he traveled to Paris, Rome, and Naples. In the French capital he worked for Léon Bonnat, official portraitist of the society of the Second Republic. In Rome he attended the Chigi Academy and came into contact with post-Fortuny artists, who would have a certain impact on his style. He alternated his stays in the Eternal City with seasons in Naples, where he received his influence, above all from Domenico Morelli, whom he appreciated for his new chromaticism and his emotional scenes, and from Gioacchino Toma, through whom he recovered the realistic and evocative approach. In 1882 he began to participate in collective exhibitions at the Sala Parés, a collaboration that intensified in the following decade and which always received a good response from critics and the public in Barcelona, who, in addition to drawing and colour, valued his stylistic evolution. The following year he began collaborating with him at L'Avenç, where he worked as an art critic and published some poems. The changes at the end of the century, which correspond in the arts to the development of Modernism, found Tamburini totally receptive, willing to recover and interpret elements of different styles. Thus, his language combines Catalan academic and costumbrista realism, French symbolism and English Pre-Raphaeliteism, all fundamental components for the development of this movement that was so successful in Catalonia. In particular, the critic Alexandre Cirici associated his style with the white wing of Modernism, along with Joan Brull, Alexandre de Riquer and Joan Llimona, as opposed to the black wing, which included, among others, Isidre Nonell and Joaquim Mir. It was from 1896, with the III Exhibition of Fine Arts, when Tamburini marked a real change towards idealism: his allegorical paintings show, both in the set design and in the general intonation, the will to stimulate the public's sensitivity using muted chromatic resources, humorous atmospheres and wild foliage. At the beginning of the century, Tamburini joined the Artistic and Literary Society of Catalonia (1900-1926), born under the impulse of Modest Urgell, which brought together various artists from the Sala Parés, and since 1902 he was a member of the Academy of Fine Arts. The graphic collaboration with La Il·lustración Artística (1902-1917) and other illustrated magazines supported his pictorial production, which became international with exhibitions in Munich, Mexico and Buenos Aires. In later years, the artist focused on portraits and landscapes, although he also devoted himself to drawing and watercolors. Tamburini died in 1932, the year in which, due to the political tensions that preceded the Civil War, his works already seemed outdated and far from the interests of the public. Known and recognized in his time, the figure of the artist has since suffered undeserved oblivion, despite the attempts to recover it that have been made in past decades.