Julio Romero de Torres (Spanish, 1874-1930)
Julio Romero de Torres (Spanish, 1874-1930)
Julio Romero de Torres (Spanish, 1874-1930)
Julio Romero de Torres (Spanish, 1874-1930)
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Julio Romero de Torres (Spanish, 1874-1930)

Las dos sendas

Julio Romero de Torres (Spanish, 1874-1930)
Las dos sendas
inscribed and signed '-CÓRDOBA-/J. Romero de Torres' (lower right)
oil on canvas
67 ½ x 55 ½ in. (171.5 x 141 cm.)
Painted in 1911-1912
PRASA collection, Córdoba.
'Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes, Madrid,' Mvsevm: Revista mensual de arte Español antiguo y moderno y de la vida artistica contemporanea, vol. II, 1912, Barcelona, p. 164.
'La Exposición de Bellas Artes en Madrid,' Por Esos Mundos, no. 207, April 1912, Madrid, p. 496, illustrated.
'La Exposición de Bellas Artes en Madrid, Reseña critica,' Por Esos Mundos, no. 208, May 1912, Madrid, p. 622.
'Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes,' Gedeón, no. 860, 19 May 1912, Madrid, n.p., illustrated on the cover with a caricature and within the text with a second caricature.
'De Bellas Artes, La Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes,' Mundo Gráfico, no. 32, June 1912, Madrid, n.p.
'La Consagración de Julio Romero de Torres,' Por Esos Mundos, no. 210, July 1912, Madrid, p. 7.
R. Lothar, Die Seele Spaniens, Munich, 1916, p. 328, illustrated, as Die zwei Wege.
M. Nelken, 'Julio Romero de Torres,' L'Art et les artistes, vol. XVIII, October 1913-March 1914, Paris, p. 224, illustrated, as Les deux sentiers.
G. Martínez Sierra ed., Julio Romero de Torres, Madrid, 1926, pl. 16, illustrated.
C. Barberán, Julio Romero de Torres: su vida, su obra y su museo, Madrid, 1947, pp. 76, 97.
F. Zueras Torrens, Julio Romero de Torres y su Mundo, Córdoba, 1987, pp. 45, 80, 84, illustrated.
M. Valverde Candil, A. M. Piriz Salgado, Catalogo del Museo Julio Romero de Torres, Córdoba, 1989, pp. 33-34, 38, 94, 130, 198, 212, fig. 13, illustrated.
F. Calvo Serraller, Julio Romero de Torres (1874-1930), exh. cat., Madrid, 1993, p. 77, illustrated in a photograph of the artist.
Julio Romero de Torres: desde la Plaza del Potro, exh. cat., Córdoba, 1994, pp. 22, 44.
F. García de la Torre et al., Julio Romero de Torres, exh. cat., Córdoba, 1996, pp. 54-55.
A. Basualdo et al., Julio Romero de Torres, exh. cat., Salamanca, 1997, p. 34.
L. Litvak, M. Valverde Candil, Julio Romero de Torres, exh. cat., Bilbao, 2002-2003, pp. 35-36, illustrated.
J. Pérez Segura et al., Julio Romero de Torres: Símbolo, Materia y Obsesión, exh. cat., Córdoba, 2003, pp. 35, 41, 98-99, 103-104, 159, 187, 401, illustrated.
F. Calvo Serraller, La hora de iluminar lo negro: vientos sobre Julio Romero de Torres, Madrid, 2006, p. 123.
F. García de la Torre, Julio Romero de Torres, pintor 1874-1930, Madrid, 2008, pp. 100, 105, 107-109, 111, 114-116, fig. 85, illustrated.
J. J. Primo Jurado, La Córdoba de Julio Romero, Córdoba, 2010, pp. 19, 29.
Madrid, Exposición Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Arquitectura, 1912, p. 60, no. 823.
Munich, Internationale Kunstausstellung, 1 June-31 October 1913, pp. 155, 305, no. 2658, as Die zwei Wege.
Córdoba, Círculo de la Amistad, Julio Romero de Torres: Miradas en Sepia, 8 March-16 April 2006, pp. 17, 28, 94, 106-111, 130, 160, unnumbered, illustrated.
Jerez, Bodegas Tradición, Julio Romero de Torres: un pintor, una ciudad, un mito, 18 December 2008-18 January 2009, unnumbered.
Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen, Julio Romero de Torres: Entre el mito y la tradición, 27 April-8 September 2013, also Seville, Museo des Bellas Artes de Sevilla, 26 September 2013-12 January 2014, pp. 98, 100-101, no. 28, illustrated.

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Lot Essay

During the period from 1908-15, Julio Romero de Torres was inspired and deeply influenced by the Gallegan modernist writer and dramatist Ramon de Vallé-Inclàn. Not only did the writer lend the artist the titles of many of the paintings of this period, including that of the present work, but the artist strove to interpret on canvas the philosophy which served as the foundation of Vallé-Inclàn’s modernistic poetic theatre. His was a philosophy of duality, of the eternal coexistence of good and bad, which was also a tenet the Spanish philosopher and poet Rubén Dario espoused in his treatise Sensuality and Purity (Sensualidad y Pureza).
Artistically, Romero de Torres was influenced by both the established tradition of Spanish painting, culminating in the work of Francesco Goya at the beginning of the 19th century, as well as that of the Italian Old Masters studied on the artist’s trip to Italy in 1908 (fig. 1). Indeed, his artistic career can be divided into two periods; his formative years to 1908, during which he evolved through the Romantic tradition learned from his father (who was the museum director of the Museo de Bellas Artes de Córdoba), and after 1908, when his work developed into a more modern and theatrical representation.
The arrangement of the figures in this extraordinary composition is deliberately theatrical; all of the figures in the foreground are looking directly and, in the case of the central figure of the nude, unabashedly at the viewer. She is depicted totally naked, her only adornment a beautiful lace mantilla which partially covers her hair and then falls gracefully down her back and beneath her body, settling atop the white sheets that cover the bed. The white tones of the mantilla and the sheets are subtly imbued with the golden and ivory tones of the young beauty’s skin. Behind her, exactly in the center of the composition, sits a vase of lilies on a ledge, the symbol of the purity and chastity of the Virgin Mother. Behind and to the side of the young woman on the bed stand two figures; a nun in a habit and a woman offering jewels piled on a silver salver. The nun, for whom the model was the artist’s friend Rafaelita Ruiz, demonstrates a calm, youthful and serene beauty, while the procuress, modeled by Carmen Escasena, is dressed in somber black and has a more hardened and world-weary facial expression.
In the background, two semi-circular arches open onto a view of the artist’s native Córdoba. The view through the right arch depicts a palace with a tower and its main entrance, before which a flamenco fiesta is taking place. The artist includes himself twice in the background scene; first playing the guitar (Romero de Torres initially wanted to be a flamenco singer rather than a painter), and again in a dashing, more seductive pose, kissing the hand of a young woman. The left arch opens onto an interior scene on the garden of a convent with two nuns kneeling before a cross. Each arch further illustrates the two choices presented to the young woman; one, a life of the flesh with riches, dancing and music; the other, a life of the spirit, dedicated to quiet contemplation in a life secluded from the temptations of the world.
In Las dos sendas, Romero de Torres addresses the moral dichotomy of the modern world. With the juxtaposition of the three figures in the foreground, the artist suggests pictorially the bases of the arguments set forth in the Spanish Modernist philosophy of the early 20th century. By consecrating the duality of the human spirit, which Romero de Torres recognized to be simultaneously infused with joy and weighed down with afflictions, the artist creates a revolutionary popular image and uses it to subvert the accepted religious ritual.
Romero de Torres exhibited Las dos sendas at the National Paintings competition in 1912 but did not receive a medal, despite overwhelming support from the press and the artist’s intellectual supporters. However, the work was awarded the Gold Medal at the International Exhibition in Munich in 1913. This work is the first in the artist’s oeuvre to demonstrate the mystical enigmatic language with its powerful narrative elements that is so characteristic of the later works of Julio Romero de Torres.

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