Darío de Regoyos y Valdés
Ribadesella, 1857 - Barcelona, 1913
Darío de Regoyos y Valdés was born in Ribadesella (Asturias) in 1857 and died in Barcelona in 1913. He spent his childhood and teenage years in Madrid. He began his artistic training in 1877 as a pupil of Carlos de Haes in the landscape department, receiving classes in landscape drawing. His eagerness to travel and learn about emerging foreign art movements spurred him in 1879 to visit Brussels, where his musician friends Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Fernández Arbós were then staying.
On the advice of Carlos de Haes, while in Brussels he contacted the man who had been Haes’s master years earlier, the Belgian painter Joseph Quinaux (1822–1895). Regoyos received classes at his studio for two years and Quinaux became his master, as Regoyos would recognise years later. At the same time he also enrolled for a course taught by Van Sevendonck in drawing heads after the antique at the École Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels for the academic year 1879–80.
Regoyos trained as a painter in Belgium, where he spent long periods until the 1890s. In 1881 he joined the L’Essor circle and the group of artists who later on, in 1883, founded the outstanding and now highly regarded circle of Les XX that spearheaded the liberation of art in Belgium. Regoyos was the only non-Belgian founding member. The group split up in 1893 as the members felt they had achieved their chief aim of gaining “acceptance for free art in Belgium”; its dissolution gave rise to the creation of La Libre Esthétique, a circle that existed for 20 years and in which Regoyos showed his work on several occasions. In 1914, after his death, a major exhibition was staged as a tribute to him, promoted by the poet Émile Verhaeren and the painters Théo van Rysselberghe and Ignacio Zuloaga with the support of the circle’s director, Octave Maus.
Regoyos’s style progressively developed through his constant contact with his artist friends, among them the painters Camille Pissarro, Whistler, Seurat, Signac, Ensor, Van Rysselberghe, etc., and the poet Émile Verhaeren, with whom he collaborated in publishing La España negra and travelled around Spain, France and Italy.
His painting spans various stages: the first is connected more closely with the Belgian period, in which he produced many portraits; the second, known as the España Negra series and focused on Spain of the black legend, is a more philosophical or pre-Symbolist stage; and the third, in which his style and palette show stronger affinities with Impressionism, is the best known.
Regoyos showed his work primarily at group exhibitions aimed at promoting freedom in art. He exhibited in France (often at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris and at the Galeries Durand-Ruel), Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Argentina.
In Spain he exhibited in Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastian. He was often relegated to the so-called “Sala del Crimen” at the National Exhibitions of Fine Arts for being an “Impressionist”. His early death shortly before the age of fifty-seven prevented him from seeing how his efforts to overcome the predominance of academicism were finally understood, and a posthumous tribute was paid to him at the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid eight years later.
Juan San Nicolás