Eugenio Lucas Villaamil
Madrid, 1858 - Madrid, 1918
Eugenio Lucas Villaamil, also known as Lucas “the younger”, was born in Madrid on 14 January 1858 to the painter Eugenio Lucas Velázquez and Francisca Villaamil. Until only a few years ago the information we had about his life was almost as vague as what is known about his work.
After initially training in his father’s studio as a boy, he furthered his studies at the Special School of Painting in Madrid and took part in the National Exhibitions of Fine Arts three times. In 1876 he entered two works: Italianas (“Italian Women”) and Mendigo (“Beggar”); in 1881 he submitted a small picture entitled Galanterías en el siglo XVIII (“Gallantries in the 18th Century”); and in 1884 the watercolour Después de la fiesta. Dibujo de Serra (“After the Fiesta. Drawing of Serra”) and the oil painting Cuestión de honor (“A Question of Honour”). These titles indicate Lucas Villaamil’s early preference for paintings of social types, genre scenes and tableautins set in the 18th century; indeed, these themes would account for much of his mature output. He made fine copies of some of the paintings by Goya in the Prado and became a protégé of the well-known collector José Lázaro Galdiano, for whom he executed several mural paintings to decorate his house in Calle Serrano – now converted into the museum that bears his name – among them one of Goya rodeado de sus modelos (“Goya Surrounded by His Models”).
An extraordinarily versatile painter, he succeeded in compensating for his middling artistic talent with an undisputable creativity that is particularly evident and appealing in his prints of Goyaesque Madrid executed with great compositional skill and cheerful colours. They enjoyed a certain amount of success with his middle-class clientele and allowed him to earn a living, although he was never admitted to the important public and official circles of his day and died in Madrid on 23 January 1918.
The figure of Eugenio Lucas Villaamil has always been overshadowed by that of his father. Indeed, although his awkward and reiterative imitations of his father’s oeuvre are the worst examples of his art and, they have given rise to constant mistakes of attribution up to the present day, sometimes spurred by market interests that have done nothing to encourage a strict and objective assessment of his personality.
José Luis Díez