José Rico Cejudo
Seville, 1864 - Seville, 1943
Born in Seville on 27 March 1864, José Rico Cejudo was practically still a child when he began studying at the Provincial School of Fine Arts under Manuel Wssel, Eduardo Cano and José García Ramos. In 1887, still a pupil of the school, he was awarded a monetary prize for his painting El niño de la paloma (“Boy with a Dove”).
The following year, 1888, he went to Rome on a grant awarded by Seville council. He remained there until 1895, seeking the guidance of the Sevillian artist Villegas and the Jerez-born Gallegos. During this time he visited Naples and also Venice, where he made numerous vedute like so many other members of the colony of Spanish painters in Italy, who were attracted by the fact that Fortuny’s widow, Cecilia Madrazo, was based there and by the frequent visits paid to this “court” by Fortuny’s most prestigious followers such as Martín Rico and Villegas himself. The Italian paintings Rico Cejudo submitted to Seville council during his scholarship period – Una pompeyana (“A Pompeian Woman”, 1889), Estudio de desnudo masculine (“Study of a Male Nude”, 1889) and La bendición pascual en Roma (“Easter Blessing in Rome”, 1893) – reflect the impressive skills he acquired in Italy: vigorous and firm drawing and a sense of colour characterised by tones that are intense but with few hues, balanced compositions and subjects imbued with a narrative sincerity, despite a tendency towards the anecdotal.
These qualities continued to characterise the first years after his return to Seville and are found in La promesa (“The Promise”, 1906), one of his finest works. During those years, beginning in 1897, he took up teaching drawing in preparatory academies for students of engineering, architecture and the military and later, in 1905, he taught colouring and decorative composition as an assistant at the School of Arts and Industries (the name given to the Schools of Fine Arts after 1900), and was later appointed assistant lecturer. At last, in 1907, he became a full member of the Santa Isabel de Hungría Academy of Fine Arts in Seville. But most of his subsequent work shows less creativity and features themes with little originality, following the prototypes of García Ramos and Gonzalo Bilbao, with the traditional flavour of the former and the luminarist realism of the latter.
He is documented as taking part in official competitions such as the National Exhibitions. In 1895 he submitted the third of his scholarship works, La bendición pascual en Roma, and received an honorary mention; in 1897, ¡Pobre huérfana! (“Poor Orphan!”); in 1901, Vicio y remordimiento (“Vice and Remorse”); in 1904, Con achaque de primo, Para la procession (“For the Procession”) and two portraits, receiving an honorary mention; in 1906, La promesa (“The Promise”); in 1908, Aseo matutino (“Morning Toilette”); in 1910, a portrait of his daughter and Estío (“Summertime”); in 1915, Futuros Astros (“Future Stars”) and El aguador (“The Water Seller); in 1920, En la Feria (“At the Fair”) and Floreras (“Flower Sellers”), obtaining his highest award, a medal third-class, for the latter, which was acquired by the state for 4,000 pesetas; and in 1922, Preparando la fiesta (“Preparing for the Festivities”) and Antes del Rosario (“Before the Rosary”). He is also documented as taking part in various exhibitions in Seville, Granada and Malaga and in one of the commercial exhibitions staged by Pinelo in Buenos Aires and in that of Mexico in 1910, where he obtained the only medal.
Lastly, it should be pointed out that Rico Cejudo also worked as an illustrator, a writer of short novels, an author of scholarly studies on archaeology and art in Sevillian daily newspapers and even as a flamenco singer.