Wednesday 19 December 2007

Pepita Texidor Torres: Translation from "La Dona: Subjecte i Objecte de l'Obra d'Art"

- The Woman: "Subject" and "Object" of the work of art.

The following are extracts translated by Oliver Slay from the original Catalan by Núria Rius Vernet

pg88 - Also one who remained single and who was considered the best painter of flowers and of watercolours in Barcelona was Pepita Texidor Torres (1875-1914), daughter and sister of painters.

pg97 - Like the majority of painters at the time, Emília Coranty Llurià was part of the Commission for the homage to the deceased Pepita Texidor Torres and she brought one of her works to raise money for the monument.

pg98 - Maybe the most representative of the Catalan painters of flowers was Josefa Texidor Torres, also called Pepita, the name with which she signed her works. She was born in Barcelona on 27 November 1875 to a bourgeois family from Barcelona full of artists. Her father, Josep Teixidor Busquets, an industrial engineer, manufacturer of lights, who introduced public gas lighting in the city and who petitioned the Spanish government to take up the Decimal Metric System of weights and measures (from Paris), if only he could dedicate himself to what he desired, painting, at which he was already great.

Her two brothers, Josep and Modest, also painted. Modest, 21 years a painter of landscapes and of portraits was greater than she and he had painted portraits of the royal family, the aristocracy and the high bourgeoisie of the time. He and their father were her first teachers, together with Francesc Miralles, of who she would be a disciple later.

Her brother wanted her to dedicate herself to the portrait, but she, from the beginning, tended to the watercolors and the paintings of flowers, a technique and genre considered specifically feminine and, for which, she was little appraised artistically. However, her work was recognized in the artistic market.

Like most of the women in her social class, she received artistic studies in music, singing and painting from a young age and travelled to Florence, Paris, Brussels and, probably, to Central America. She remained single always and dedicated to the family and participating in beneficial acts.

One of her watercolours, Crisantems, signed in Barcelona in 1912, of daredevil format, tall and narrow, in which one of the flowers occupies a good half of the composition, carries on the back the label - "Salon de l'Union des Femmes Peintres et Sculpteurs" of Paris, which figures the name of the artist, her address, the technique used and the title of the work. She was nominated an honorary member of the "Union des femmes peintres et sculpteurs". Also she had been, since 1912, of the "Union Internationale des Beaux Arts et des Letres" of Paris.

Technically, like all her works, the piece is perfect. Only the bouquet of flowers, not put in any receptacle, fills the composition asymmetrically, but without, in any way, coming off unbalanced or giving a void sensation of horror.

Pepita painted all types of flowers and her passion for them makes itself evident in the large represented floral variety. With respect to the used medium, not only did she paint pictures, but also panels and fans. Besides the watercolour, she used ink-wash and oils. With respect to the format of her works, they are usually of a medium type, the dimensions oscillating between 50 and 100 cms in height and width, respectively, working also with oval and circle formats.

In general she always enjoyed good criticisms. She was considered the best painter of flowers at the time, in spite of her work being qualified as feminine. It went for slightly high prices and her clientele used to be the bourgeoisie of the city; but also it was bought by the royal family: the Queen Mª Cristina appreciated the artist and acquired a series of pictures. At the bottom of the MNAC (Museu Nacional D'Art De Catalunya), there are two of her watercolours.

She received quite a lot of prizes in and out of Spain(*). At the International Exposition of Brussells of 1910, she obtained two medals of honour and, also, she received another at the exhibition, "L'art et la femme", which arrived at her family after her death. [* Rosa Segarra Martí published an accurate and interesting article on Pepita in the magazine, El Contemporani: "Més enllà d'un monument. Pepita Teixidor, pintora de flors" ('Beyond a monument. Pepita Texidor, painter of flowers') (pages 29-33), where, in a final annex, on p.32, there is an 'approximation to an artistic chronology of the artist'.]

Pepita died on 8th February 1914, at 39 years, after a year of severe illness. The press at the time dedicated many articles to her and a group of women from her environment, through the magazine Feminal, carried out a series of initiatives until they achieved the inauguration, on 14th November 1917, of a monument, in her memory, sculpted by Fuxà, that today is still in the parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona.

The meetings of the above mentioned group of women started in "La Llar" on the 21st May 1914 and the proposals were numerous: from creating a prize with her name for the young women who follow the path pioneered by the artist (D. Monserdà), to asking the Board of Museums of the city and the Town Council of Barcelona for the acquisition of the works of the Pepita by the Museum of Barcelona (Ll. Vidal).

Finally an entrusted commission was created to bring to term the actions they had agreed on. In this there was a representative of each artistic branch and it was directed by Carmen Karr. Among the actions are highlighted a retrospective Exposition of her work at the Sala Parés in 1914 - in which was sold all the works and the Board of Museums acquired two - where, in the middle of the room, they placed a charcoal portrait of Pepita, made by Ramón Casas, and the Tombola with more than 300 works to pay for the monument. They brought very different artists' works: her brothers and father; painters of the time, like Lluïsa Vidal, Isabel Baquero, Rafaela Sánchez Aroca, Visitació Ubach, Ramón Casas, Claudio Lorenzale, Santiago Rusiñol, Urgell, Apel.les Mestres, etc.; and works also of dead artists, like Fortuny, Martí Alsina, Vayreda, etc. Apel.les Mestres dedicated a poem to her that he shared with all those who attended the inaugural act.

The name of Pepita Texidor Torres (chosen to open the fixed section "Las nostres artistes" (Our Artists) in the first edition of the magazine Feminal), with the raising of her monument, went on to become a symbol of the new Catalan woman and her task that culminated in "Noucentism"; with such a symbol she was recognised in "Las Noticias" in July 1915: " is not only to the memory, so sweet and so lasting, of the delicate artist that the monument has been raised: it is to the talent and the work of the Catalan woman, synthesised in the dear and so admired Pepita Texidor."

I would like to end the commentary on this artist with a paragraph that was dedicated to her by Rosa Segarra Martí: "They made the homage into a platform to spread their feminist ideas further from its usual environment. And, in short, this made a network of solidarity among women with a common goal: self-recognition and self-significance through the medium of another woman, Pepita Texidor, painter of flowers."

pg100 - Ma. Lluïsa Güell López (1874-1933) was also a part of the Commission for the homage to Pepita Texidor Torres and brought a work for her monument.

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