Armand Miravalls Bové
Pedrucho and his Cuadrilla
Oil on canvas \
Signed in the middle-lower right
82 H x 107 L inches
The Painting Analysis
The imposingly formal portrait of a second-tier matador, Pedrucho of Eibar, and his cuadrilla (bullfighting assistants) is an exceptionally layered painting demonstrating remarkable deference to the Spanish baroque style but also a window into the ego of this wanting tragic figure. The composition consists of seven characters illuminated by the details of their own choreographed self-importance and respective dominating colors; the matador in gold, three banderilleros in silver, the rejoneador on the far right in a customary country suit, the picador behind the matador's left shoulder with his castoñero hat and silver sequined shouldered jacket, and what can only be assumed to be the mozo (swordsman) with no poignant details except a striking white cravat. The characters stand grouped in a semi-circular formation with the principal hero standing in his well-practiced grace at center. It seems he stands, not as he wants, but as expected, with only the firmest grip of the ground before him, ready to be judged by God, the spectator, and bull.
Although wrapped, adorned, and beautified in his ceremonial armor, the slight and battered figure which hides within the expectant green and gold "traje de luces" (suit of lights), is undeniably masculine. Pedrucho' s face is worn, well used, a mark of his long career both in the arena and on the cinematic stage. He is assumed to be well within his fifties at the painting's completion, but his face does implore suffrage. He, unlike his companions, refuses to lock eyes with us, the onlookers, as if denying us a window into his secret, the source of his bravery. Instead, he exhibits a conscientious sense of duty, a learned elegance, a prerequisite for the task. The celestial blue montera (cape), customarily worn only before the fight, ritually swaddling his gut and shrouding his left side, symbolizing its purity of color and the matador's resignation to his fate whatever it may be. Shared between him and his banderilleros are the fluorescent pink stockings, which, although another symbol of good luck, also proved technically practical. Where dark or white stockings failed to be always visible in the midst of the chaotic arena, the pink socks dared any onlooker not to lose sight of their steadfast stances when locked in a dance with a charging foe.
Shrouded in shadows, typical of this carravagionist chiaroscuro, Miravalls Bove finds his portrait's characters only through the light he emits on them. As Hemingway described it in his Death in the Afternoon, "The Spanish say, 'El sol es el mejor torero.' The sun is the best bullfighter, and without the sun the best bullfighter is not there. He is like a man without a shadow". One is bound to question whether this elected technique was purely coincidental or a subtle understanding of a bullfight's intrinsic relationship with light. Light in this painting does not attempt to define the secondary subjects' features but rather the significance of their roles through color. The little left to be read on the cuadrillas' faces is that the painting's formality, like the arena, does not faze them. They are accustomed to the required pageantry of their office and casually, if not arrogantly, reject the fear of being spectated.
It is only through the cuadrillas' uniforms that we begin to note their necessity. Although, as heavily trimmed, the three banderilleros do not carry equal weight in the painting or the arena. They are set aside by their details. The oldest on the far left wears crimson under the silver sequin jacket symbolic of his elusive skill. He grasps the pale pink capote, generally known as the easiest, a sign of his age. The youngest wears a light mustard yellow under his sequin while eager hands both clutch the violet, if not most venerated, capote. The rejoneador and the picador are characterized by their castoreño hats and heavy chamois pants. They cover the necessary padding needed when risking being a more significant target atop of a horse in the ring. They only differ in jackets and neckties. The picador will always wear a short sequin jacket, not unlike the torero, and a black tie. Like in the ring, the mozo does not traditionally belong on the stage, no matter the vitality of his role. His presence in the painting can only be speculated as either an artistic decision, not unlike Velasquez did by featuring the ladies in waiting in his Meninas, or an appropriate award for invaluable service to his torero.
Armand Miravalls Bové
Although born in Barcelona in 1916, two years after Pedrucho debuted his overdrawn career, Armando Miravalls Bove was a Catalonian artist who decided, after a short stint of studying at the Prado in Madrid, to be an exclusively classical Castilian-style artist. Although initially trained under the prominent Ernesto Santasusagna at the School of La Lonja, it was in Madrid, after the Spanish Civil War, where Miravalls Bové began to formerly perpetuate the palpitating heart of Spanish painting, the Baroque style. For it was there where he adopted many techniques and approaches which directly revered his heroes, who, in large part was, unabashedly Velazquez and, in a lesser sense, Goya and Zurbarán. A reporter at the Dario de Barcelona once interviewed Miravalls Bové about the source of his affinity for Velasquez and Spanish painting. Bove answered by saying that, "When I finally learn it all, I will owe it all to [Santasusaga], and all the others who confirmed his teaching during those two years in Madrid for all the lessons and advice that Santasusaga had given me, the [Prado] museum only repeated them, it was all with Velázquez heavily on my mind." Miravalls Bové became a primarily prominent portrait artist and professor at the School of Fine Arts in San Jordi, Barcelona. He experienced his most promising success during the late 40s and through the 50s. For example, he finished the monumental painting of Pedrucho and his Cuadrilla at the height of his popularity in 1949. Bové was noticeably featured in various exhibitions both domestically in Spain and abroad; however, the most noteworthy were; the Il Bienal Hispanoamericana de Arte en La Habana, Cuba, in 1954, and the Art Gallery Velasquez in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1956. Both exhibitions at which this painting we hail, here, hung. After living several years abroad in Argentina, Miravalls Bove returned to Barcelona and passed away at 72 on September 25, 1978.
Pedro Basauri Paguaga "Pedrucho"
Pedro Basauri Paguaga, later to be known as "Pedrucho of Eibar" in the bullring, was born November 30, 1893, in Eibar, a town in the Basque Country of Spain. Two years later, he and his family would uproot and move to Barcelona, yet somehow his birth town would never be dropped from his "nom de guerre". He debuted his long-spanning bullfighting career in 1914 at the Plaza de las Arenas in Barcelona, which for all intents and purposes, must demonstrate a certain manner of success given the obvious point of the show. However, Pedrucho would never be regarded as an unparalleled bullfighting skill or showman, and for the first half of the last century, Pedrucho would circulate and win at the great bullfighting rings of Spain, but never would he accumulate a fervent following. His career in the ring would be divided at servals points in his life, beginning in the 20s to make room for a blossoming career in cinema, where he mostly played characters much like himself, bullfighters, loosely resembling a broken and Spanish Randolph Scott. He played in movies such as the Poor Children, The Tragedy of the Bullfighter by Henri Vorins, and ultimately staring in a near autobiographical film named after his endearing nickname, Pedrucho, in 1924.
II Bienal Hispanoamericana of Art in La Habana in 1954
For the following two years, thanks to the ministry of culture of the different countries, the exhibition traveled all around Hispanoamerica, being exhibited in the Fine Art Museum of Caracas (Venezuela), Lima (Peru), Buenos Aires (Venezuela), Miami (Florida) among others.
The very famous Art Gallery Velazquez in Buenos Aires in 1956 Private collection in Buenos Aires until 2000
Private collection in Spain 200