Josep Tapiró

Reus 1836 - Tànger, Marroc 1913

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Josep Tapiró i Baró is considered one of the most important Catalan artists of the 19th century. His works were highly valued for their impeccable artistry and an extraordinary verisimilitude of the images. Apart from his technical qualities, Tapiró was the first peninsular painter to settle permanently in the city of Tangier, together with his friend Marià Fortuny. During those years, he studied Moroccan society in an almost scientific way, society which was about to be profoundly transformed due to European expansionist pressure. As was Marià Fortuny, Tapiró was born in Reus in a middle-class family and manifested an innate vocation for drawing from a very young age. He was a student of the painter Domènec Soberano, in whose workshop he met Fortuny, two years younger than him, with whom he would begin a great friendship. In 1853, he moved to Barcelona to study at the Llotja school. In 1858 he travelled to the capital, where he attended the private academy of Federico de Madrazo, who had a significant influence on the young Catalan painter. A crucial moment in his artistic career came in 1862, when, encouraged by his friend Fortuny, he undertook the first trip to Rome. There he studied the great masters of the past. Tapiró joined the group of peninsular painters who lived in the eternal city and who would meet at the Greco Cafe. Following this group's footsteps, he regularly attended night classes at the Academia Chigi in via Margutta. At first, he specialized in watercolour technique; the first works of this time are representations of characters and scenes of daily life in Rome. His first stay in Morocco took place in October 1871. Accompanied by his friends, Fortuny and Ferrándiz, he crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to visit the city of Tangier, as had other European artists previously. The Maghrebian city was beginning a process of transformation to become a cosmopolitan and multicultural city. Spanish painters perfectly captured this process by carefully studying its culture and customs. Finally, in 1872 he returned to Rome before moving permanently to Tangier. There, in Rome, the artist successfully presented his first orientalist works. He had just returned from Morocco and was fascinated by what he had seen in the Moroccan city. The theme of street musicians was persistent during his career. In the last third of the 19th century, Tapiró reflected North African reality in his art, theme for which he ended up being very famous and internationally recognized. He exhibited his works at the prestigious Pall Mall Gallery in London and at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where this work was exhibited between 1881 and 1883.