Eustaquio Marín Ramos

Sanlúcar la Mayor (Seville), 1873 - San Sebastián, 1948

  • The April Fair


The birth of Eustaquio Marín Ramos on 3 February 1873 – to Pedro Marín Álvarez and Dolores Ramos Sousa – in the Sevillian village of Sanlúcar la Mayor may have conditioned his childhood, which has a ring of fantasy about it. Indeed, the main events of those early years have a somewhat legendary aura when viewed from an approach that is more literary than biographical – that of the imaginative pen of the prolific novelist and art critic José Francés (Francés 1915b). The future painter read novels about smugglers to a gypsy family who shuddered on hearing him speak, had taught himself to play the accordion and the guitar and accompanied Sevillana dancing in private homes before turning ten years old, and studied at secondary school and teacher training college before resuming what had been a rather dull but short period in his teenage years as an apothecary’s assistant. He dared to leave all this behind and take up drawing intuitively, without any kind of training, drawing inspiration from his earlier life spent among gypsies and dancers in the marquees of the Seville Fair and Andalusian courtyards.

This self-taught approach to painting – despite some advice from José Villegas and the discipline of copying Velázquez – underpinned by a firm conviction about what he was doing albeit with a few disappointments and “drawing more with brushes than with charcoal” (Cascales 1929) resulted in a type of painting as bold as it was original, Goyaesque without yet knowing Goya (it had the aggressive vigour of Goya’s fantasies) and reminiscent of the subtlety of Carrière – with whom he was not familiar either – and his dreamy mist. José Francés even links the peculiar art of Marín Ramos to Rembrandt and the “modern” Brangwyn in its cosmopolitan erudition. His is an art that captures truthfully and consistently the essence of Andalusia, the mystic and pagan Andalusia, and the sensual and romantic Andalusia, centring above all on flamenco dancers, the “bailaoras de tablao”.

The magic and fantasy which come to the fore in Marín’s painting are aptly perceived and described by Cascales (1929), who notes that the first impression one has of his paintings is of a blurred appearance, but gradually rough shapes are distinguished and finally the figures are perceived in full detail, with such a sense of movement that they appear to come to life, as if they really ran, danced or talked.

When he had become well established as an artist, he took part in the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1906; he submitted Juerga gitana (“Gypsies Merrymaking”, 170 x 195 cm, no. 669), which relates to the experiences of the early years of his life, although it did not secure him a prize. He did not repeat the experience until eleven years later, in 1917 – and nor did he win any awards either – when he entered Una cabeza gitana (“A Gypsy Head”, 33 x 25 cm, no. 315) and Feria de Sevilla (“The Seville Fair”, 81 x 100 cm, no. 316). Meanwhile he showed his work at the Círculo Mercantil in Huelva in May 1910, leaving a deep mark on young local artists, particularly Manuel Cruz Martínez, who adopted the Sevillian artist’s painterly vibrant, heavily loaded brushstrokes – according to Velasco – as well as his modernist procedures and even certain expressionist features such as the intense lyricism of his compositions, as well as being influenced by another painter, Zuloaga. In 1910 he exhibited at the Salón Iturrioz in Madrid with a favourable reception; he also enjoyed success in Barcelona and the following year in Paris, where his success was such that prestigious reviews praised his painting, as a result of which each of those cartoons became worth between four and five thousand francs each. This encouraged him to live in the French capital from 1911 to 1915, making numerous trips (it seems he even visited Rome), but he also fully decorated a Parisian café called “La Feria” with themes taken from the Seville Fair itself. This “work outstandingly and deservedly caught the attention of the intelligentsia”, according to the trite praise lavished on it in the bibliography of the period (Cuenca). The self-confessed source of news on the latter, who is José Francés albeit writing under the pseudonym Silvio Lago, states that Marín’s art “earns him thousands of francs in the home of a Paris, London or Munich dealer, and rude and stupid comments in the Spain that glorifies politicians, bullfighters and cabaret singers”.

During these busy exhibition years, he again showed his work in Madrid in 1915 in a “small, rather absurd hall of the Athenaeum” and later, in October – the show that spurred Francés’s chronicle – in the Sala Vilches “with full honour of presentation”. The paintings shown at the Athenaeum are La gitana y sus huestes (“Gypsy Woman and Her Followers”), Estudio de luz (“Study of Light”), El café de Novedades de Sevilla (“The Café de Novedades in Seville”), La Rafaela, Café cantante (“Café with Entertainment”), En el temple (“At the Church”), El “conoceor” de la ganadería (“The Cattle ‘Expert’”), El “tablao” de Novedades (“The Flamenco Show at the Novedades”), De la feria de Sevilla (“Of the Seville Fair”), Una juerga (“Merrymaking”), La noche de San Juan en la Alameda de Hércules (“Midsummer Night in the Alameda de Hércules”), La feria (“The Fair”), La “mercé”, Los gauchos de las buñolerías (“Gauchos at the Fritter Stalls”), La Carmen, Bailaoras de la feria (“Flamenco Dancers at the Fair”), Al caer de la tarde (“At Dusk”), En casa de la Joaquina (“At Joaquina’s House”), Feria andaluza (“Andalusian Fair”), Apartando un toro (“Driving a Bull Away”), En el Prado de San Sebastián (“At the Prado de San Sebastián”), La insistencia del gaucho (“The Gaucho’s Insistence”), Un rincón de la Cava (“A Corner of the Cellar”), La hora de la compra (“Shopping Time”), Veraneo sevillano (“Holidaymaking in Seville”) and others. And he even held another exhibition at the Salón Artístico in Madrid in 1920.

Other works apart from those listed above are Boda gitana (“Gypsy Wedding”), Prended al amo (“Catch the Master”), Después de la boda (“After the Wedding”), Después de una bronco (“After a Brawl”), Tango argentine (“Argentinean Tango”), El gaucho y la señorita (“The Gaucho and the Young Lady”), La taberna de Quintero ¡A escena! (“Quintero’s Tavern. On Stage!”), El favorito (“The Favourite”) and Zambra gitana (“Gypsy Dance”). Once again, La primavera en Sevilla (“Spring in Seville”) is reproduced on the cover of Europa, a weekly popular culture magazine, issue no. 11, 1/V/1910. The portraits cited are those of Rosita Pacheco, D. Pedro Bueno, Javier de la Fisca, Count of Las Atalayas, in Seville, and that of Agustín Tolosa, formerly in a Parisian collection.

According to the artist’s family, Eugenio Marín Ramos died in San Sebastián on May 16th, 1948, and he was buried the next day in the Polloe cemetery. We know how he looked like from family photographs and the portrait painted of him by José Villegas (we should recall that this other cosmopolitan Sevillian gave him advice, according to the biography of the lesser known Sevillian) in 1900 featuring a dedication and housed in the Museo de Huelva (oil on canvas, 60.2 x 43.2 cm, signed, dated and dedicated: “A mi querido amigo / Eustaquio Marín / en recuerdo del corto tiempo que hemos / pasado juntos en la / casa de Pilatos / Sevilla / Septiembre 1900 / Villegas” [To my dear friend / Eustaquio Marín / in remembrance of the short time that we / spent together in the / Casa de Pilatos / Seville / September 1900 / Villegas].

Esteban Casado