Antonio Cabral Bejarano
Sevilla, 1798 - Seville, 1861
Trained in the continuation of Murillo’s style under his father Joaquín Cabral, Antonio Cabral Bejarano also studied at the Seville School of the Three Noble Arts. His teaching career at the institution began in 1825 when he was appointed assistant instructor of perspective. In 1835 he became responsible first for selecting works and later for the conservation and restoration of paintings at the newly established Museum of Fine Arts in Seville. In 1836 he was appointed an academician of merit by the San Fernando Academy for his history painting, and in 1850 he became director of the Seville School and a member of the city’s academy. His political commitments to the liberal ideology earned him the favourable treatment of the crown, even during Ferdinand VII’s reign, and he received many royal commissions, such as for ephemeral architectural structures and decorations for numerous public celebrations of royal events and portraits of the monarchs for the city’s official institutions. He was also given local commissions such as the decoration of civil and religious buildings – the main theatre and the comic theatre of Seville; the Dominican monastery in the Plaza de la Regina and paintings to adorn the altarpiece of the convent of La Trinidad (in collaboration with his father) – as well as larger-scale projects including the decoration of the chapel of the palace of San Telmo, the Sevillian residence of the Duke and Duchess of Montpensier, and several religious canvases to decorate that building. He likewise worked on some decorations on the theme of Columbus for the inauguration of the refurbished convent of La Rábida on the initiative of the Montpensiers.
However, Cabral Bejarano – who is a key figure in understanding Sevillian painting of the first half of the 20th century – was outstanding for his portraits more than for any other genres. Most of his subjects are rigidly drawn with concentrated but inexpressive gestures, such as the pair formed by Don Joaquín Pérez de Seoane and Doña Inés Rivero de la Herranz (Seville, private collection); in contrast, he achieves a more refined Romantic air in what is now considered his most important work, Portrait of the Marquis of Arco Hermoso and His Family (Seville, private collection), a balanced composition in which the six members of the family are linked hierarchically around the nobleman depicted in hunting dress outside his San José de Buenavista estate near Alcalá de Guadaíra.
He was also considerably skilled at painting genre scenes, interesting examples of which include El patio de Monipodio (Uruguay, Montevideo Museum of Fine Arts) painted in 1847 for the Marquis of Los Llanos; Torero y maja (“Bullfighter and Maja”, Seville, private collection); and Majo y maja (Seville, Palacio de las Dueñas). He made occasional forays into graphic illustration.
Carlos G. Navarro