Joaquín Agrasot

Orihuela, 1836 - Valencia, 1919

  • A Rest During the Bullfight


Joaquín Agrasot, who was born in Orihuela, Alicante, on 23 December 1836, began studying at the San Carlos School of Fine Arts in Valencia. He is documented as first enrolling for the 1857–58 academic year with registration number 70 (archives of the Real Academia de San Carlos de Valencia, legajo 48) and for the last time in 1859–60; records of enrolment for the previous and following academic years have not been located. There, with the financial support of the Diputación (provincial authorities) of Alicante, he was able to study subjects such as arithmetic, drawing, perspective and the theory and history of art. Fellow students of his during his last year at the school were other prominent painters such as Francisco Domingo, Rafael Monleón and Salvador Martínez Cubells, and his instructors included Francisco Martínez Yago, father of the latter.

In 1860, soon after completing his studies, Agrasot took part for the first time in an exhibition organised by the Economic Society of Friends of the Country in Alicante, entering six works and winning a bronze medal. Another scholarship granted by the Diputación three years later enabled him to travel to Rome, where he met other painters on study grants such as Casado del Alisal, Jiménez Aranda, Rosales and Mariano Fortuny from Reus (Catalonia), with whom he appears to have struck up a close friendship that subsequently conditioned his style. Indeed, the first work Agrasot sent from Rome in 1864 to the National Exhibition of Fine Arts, the well-known Lavandera de la Scarpa (en los Estados Pontificios) [“Washerwoman of the Scarpa (in the Papal States)”], was awarded a third-place medal notwithstanding the suspicion that the hens were painted by Fortuny – although the Catalan denied this in an autograph letter sent to Agrasot (Sequeros 1972). During those years, in which Fortuny’s influence may be clearly seen in his art, Agrasot produced other paintings such as Una escuela de aldea en los Estados Pontificios (“Village School in the Papal States”), Josué deteniendo el Sol (“Joshua Stopping the Sun”), La curación de Tobías (“The Healing of Tobias”) and also The Two Friends, for which he would win the silver medal at the National Exhibition of 1867 and a prize at the Philadelphia World’s Fair nine years later.

Agrasot’s return to Valencia may have been prompted by the death of Fortuny in 1874. He settled there permanently in a studio in Calle Pintor López, located on the other side of the river Turia opposite what was then the Provincial Museum of Fine Arts, where he produced chiefly genre paintings that are reminiscent of the oeuvre of Ernest Meissonier in Paris. In 1878 he submitted to the Paris Exposition a painted entitled Antes de la corrida en la plaza de toros de Valencia (“Before the Bullfight in the Valencia Bullring”), which was acquired by a private collector of Vienna. Dating from the 1880s are Taller de armero con un grupo de soldados flamencos (“Gunsmith’s Workshop with a Group of Flemish Soldiers”) and Clown rodeado de perros de lana (“Clown Surrounded by Woolly-coated Dogs”). During that decade he also took part in the National Exhibition of 1884, entering a large work on canvas entitled Muerte del Excelentísimo Señor Marqués del Duero (“Death of His Excellency the Marquis of Duero”). Three years later, also in the genre of history painting, he executed the no longer extant Entrada de Carlos V en el Monasterio de Yuste (“Entry of Charles V into the Monastery at Yuste”), for which he received a second-place medal certificate at that year’s National Exhibition. In the late 1880s and early 1890s he again took part in official competitions, although the genre paintings he submitted, many in small format, failed to win any prizes.

Agrasot was asked to be a member of the jury at the National Exhibitions on several occasions. He was also involved in organising the Regional Exhibition of Valencia in 1909 and more directly in establishing the Circle of Fine Arts in Valencia. His official recognition came from Valencia, when he was appointed a member of the Royal Academy of San Carlos in 1898 and of the San Fernando Academy in Madrid. Later, in 1904, he was nominated for a knight commandership of the order of Alfonso XII. He died on 8 January 1919 in Valencia, where a tribute was paid to him, apparently on the initiative of his colleague Joaquín Sorolla, with a small effigy crafted by the sculptor Francisco Marco.

Vicente Samper