Enrique Martínez Cubells

Madrid, 1874 - Malaga, 1947

  • Breton Woman

    c. 1899-1900
  • Return from the Catch

    c. 1911
  • La Puerta del Sol, Madrid

  • Fishermen Dragging Their Boat


Enrique Martínez Cubells was the son of the Valencian history painter Salvador Martínez Cubells and grandson of the painter and restorer Francisco Martínez Yago. He studied in Madrid with his father, at the School of Art and Crafts and later at the San Fernando School of Fine Arts. Between 1899 and 1900 he lived in Munich, from where he travelled around Germany and to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and England. He was particularly interested in contemporary German painting and above all in painters like Wilhelm Leibl who were concerned about the social aspects of rural life.

From the beginning of his career he specialised in genre and social themes, often related to the world of fishing and the sea. He became known in the Spanish art scene in 1897 when he won a medal third-class for Un accidente (“An Accident”), owned by the Museo del Prado and on deposit at the Museo Municipal de San Telmo in San Sebastián. In 1899 he won a second-place medal for El viático en la aldea (“The Viaticum in the Hamlet”) and in 1901 he was awarded another second-place medal for Invierno en Múnich (“Winter in Munich”). Finally, in 1904 he presented Work, Rest, Family, for which he secured a first-place medal. This work, owned by the Museo Nacional del Prado, is now on deposit at the Valencia Museum of Fine Arts. He again won a first-place medal in 1912 for La vuelta de la pesca (“Return from Fishing”), also owned by the Museo del Prado and on deposit at the Malaga Museum of Fine Arts.

At the same time Martínez Cubells furthered his career outside Spain and took part in different international exhibitions and biennials. He won one of the first-place medals at the Munich International Exhibition in 1909 and another first-place medal at the Amsterdam International Exhibition in 1912. In 1910 he received a second-place medal at the Buenos Aires Exhibition and the only medal at the Santiago de Chile Exhibition.

Following in his father’s footsteps, he became a lecturer at the School of Arts and Crafts in Madrid and later at the San Fernando School of Fine Arts. Also, like his father before him, he enjoyed official recognition. He was made a commander of the civil order of Alfonso XII and of the order of Isabella the Catholic, as well as a knight of the order of the Crown and of the order of St Michael of Bavaria. He was the Spanish delegate at the Munich International Exhibitions of 1901, 1905 and 1909.

Carmen Gracia