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Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo

Madrid, 4.11.1836 - Madrid, 13.9.1873

Eduardo Rosales Gallinas is one of the leading figures in 19th-century Spanish art. His renown was more solid and deserved than that of any other artist of his generation, and was largely the result of a life marked by pain, loneliness and illness. Most of all, however, he was admired as a talented, original and independent painter who renewed the genre of history painting and thus significantly changed the course of all 19th-century Spanish painting, shifting it away from academic purism towards the realism of Velázquez’s work.
Born to a humble family from Madrid, Rosales was orphaned at an early age and grew up alone in the capital. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, and after receiving his first significant commission, García Aznar, V Count of Aragon (P6406), for the Chronological Series of the Kings of Spain, he left for Italy. He was still quite young, and he financed the trip with the money from that commission, not having received a royal pension, but certain that a few close friends would help him. When he finally received a pension he concluded his training there, and in fact, much of his career took place in that country.
During his early years in Italy, Rosales focused primarily on Nazarene purism, and that influence is still visible in his first important work, Tobias and the Angel (P4620). He soon grasped that that language was in crisis, however, and shifted towards a more naturalist realism that led him to concentrate on depictions of Italian types. His mature work, however, involved developing a pictorial language that was to renew mid-19th-century artistic practice. His familiarity with the realist approach of Italian and French academic painters of his generation was crucial, but the language he developed for himself drew strongly on the Spanish Siglo-de-Oro tradition-especially Velázquez. This is what emerges in Doña Isabella the Catholic Dictating her Testament (P4625), the masterpiece that established his reputation and revolutionized painting in the final years of Elizabeth’s reign. Following this work’s resounding success at the 1864 national exhibition, and its even more significant acclaim at the Universal Exposition in Paris, Rosales received numerous commissions for portraits. Outstanding among these works, which reflect Velázquez’s influence in both their technique and their iconography, are The Duke of Fernán Núñez (Madrid, private collection) and Concepción Serrano, subsequently Duchess of Santovenia (P6711). Rosales planned to enter the following national contest with a work that would allow him to surpass himself realistically, and he sought out an original approach that would deepen the exploration he had begun with his Testament-in terms of both the iconography and the material execution of the work. That was the origin of The Death of Lucrece (P4613), which did not appear publically until the National Exhibition of 1871, when he considered it complete. This work’s modernity was not understood by his contemporaries.
At the same time, Rosales recognized the impossibility of earning his living with history paintings and began to focus on two genres that he almost certainly considered minor, as he painted them with less enthusiasm than his major history works. One was portraiture, including numerous likenesses commissioned by his closest circle, such as Pinelli, the Violinist (P4614). The other consisted of small-format depictions of everyday events in historical settings, much like the rather affected tableautins then fashionable in Paris. The finest example of this second category is the splendid Presentation of John of Austria to Emperor Charles V in Yuste (P4610). In all of these works, the monumental and solemn language lacks a certain compositional agility and proves ill suited to the small, tight brushstrokes and brilliant colors that characterize them.
Towards the end of his life, Rosales also became increasingly interested in outdoor landscape painting, which helped him through long and numerous periods of convalescence in the port of Panticosa, as well as two stays in southeastern Spain. During his final years he also made large decorative compositions, including two for the Marquis of Portugalete’s palace -now lost- as well as for the spandrels of the church of Santo Tomás in Madrid, which represent the four evangelists. He was unable to complete this latter work before his premature death (G. Navarro, C. en: El siglo XIX en el Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2007, p. 486).

Rosales’ portrait by Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz is cataloged at the Museo del Prado as P04461.

Artworks (129)

Oil on canvas, Ca. 1862
Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo
García Aznar, count of Aragon
Oil on canvas, 1857
Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo
Tobias and the Angel
Oil on canvas, 1858 - 1863
Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo
Celda prioral del Monasterio de El Escorial
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1864
Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo
Maximina Martínez de Pedrosa
Oil on canvas, 1860
Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo
Estigmatización de Santa Catalina de Siena (copia)
Oil on canvas, 1862
Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo
Maximina Martínez de Pedrosa, con mantilla
Oil on cardboard, Ca. 1867
Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo
Queen Isabella the Catholic dictating her Will (preparatory study)
Oil on paper attached to cardboard, 1863
Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo
Female Nude, or After the Bath
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1869
Rosales Gallinas, Eduardo


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