Saturdays Artist Series: Lluïsa Vidal, Catalan painter

She’s one of the forgotten, or left aside women painters of the XXth Century. As we all know, there are countless male painters filling up museums with rubbish, yes, rubbish! And women painters? As if they did not exist. But they do exist! Lluïsa Vidal was the first female artist to exhibit at Els Quatre Gats in Barcelona, the place where Picasso first exhibited, the hangout of the greats…Catalans…to be at the end of the XIXth and beginning of the XXth Century. If that is not an accomplishment, then what is one?

Ms. Vidal was born in 1876 in Barcelona. She died in 1918. You can say she had a short life, after all, Picasso was born in 1881 and lived until 1973. The longer you live the more you can gain fortune, the more you can become famous, the more they will remember you…

Lluïsa grew up in an environment where culture and art were very important. She was the only female of her time, in Spain, to dedicate herself…professionally…to art and painting. She was the only Spanish female artist to go to Paris to study….

(Vidal’s artist studio)

But, Vidal was also a feminist. Upon her return from Paris, she joined the Catholic Feminists that were organised and led by Carme Karr. She continued to be a feminist and to move in those circles all her life. Actually, most of the portraits she painted were of women from the feminist circles and their families.

Vidal was a social activist, completely committed to the cause of women’s liberation. She lived off her work as an artist and from teaching at her studio-academy on Carrer Salmerón, which is now called Grande de Gracia. During the war (WWI) she formed part of the Comité Femenino Pacifista de Cataluña, (Pacifist Committee of Catalonia). She met and associated with all the artists of the time, with all the refugees and with all those who longed for peace.

Like I said, she was the first and only woman to exhibit at Els Quatre Gats. She also did many illustrations for the feminist magazine Feminal where many articles and stories by prominent Catalan women published. It seems clear that she was a force to be reckoned with and a very good painter. She also was an extraordinary illustrator who created beautiful and powerful drawings…

Lluïsa Vidal was born during the time that Spain was confronting many grave problems. There were problems with Cuba, Spain’s far away province in the Caribbean who started thinking about independence and a revolution was brewing there. This independence movement in Cuba supplemented and fit in perfectly with the nationalist Catalan movement which was resurfacing and was causing much excitement in Barcelona.

The telephone had just been invented…Vidal read Zola and Dostoievski and listened to the operas of Richard Wagner. The vanguard artists and architects in Catalonia were José Vilaseca, Antoni Gaudí, and Lluís Domènech i Montaner and they were creating buildings in the city that were works of art. Catalonia was not like the rest of Spain, it was cosmopolitan and much more European. Soon the government in Madrid began to develop a restrictive and authoritative policy towards Catalonia, which fed the anarchist and separatist movements developing quickly there, as quickly as they had been developing all over Europe.

These were Vidal’s times. She was the first Spanish female painter to accomplish many things, i.e. going to Paris to study painting, exhibiting at Els Quatre Gats and joining the feminist cause. She is considered a modernist painter of the second generation, eclectic and very Catalan…

Lluïsa’s untimely death in 1918 was brought about by the Spanish Flu pandemic which caused so much death that year.

Although she was…during her lifetime…considered one of, if not the best, female Catalan artist, she disappeared completely from Art History. Her modernist approach to art, her feminist attitude and the way she chronicled the things of her time were all forgotten. It was as if she never existed among Catalan painters.

She left us three beautiful self-portraits that I believe say so much about her personality…

This one from 1899:

This one from 1909:

(De Lluïsa Vidal – Revista Femina, Dominio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23066764)

This one from 1918:

(De Lluïsa Vidal – Panadès, Pruden, ed.. Lluïsa Vidal, pintora: una dona entre els mestres del modernisme. Barcelona: Fundació la Caixa, 2001. ISBN 8476647441. 2013-01-03, Dominio público, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23565534)

I want to appreciate your time and your interest, and of course your visit to Omnia Caelum Blogs. If you have enjoyed this type of post, this series focusing on artists, especially the ones usually ignored, please let me know, and if you liked it and follow it I will continue the series ad infinitum…

Please do not forget to follow, to like and if you find it in your heart and in the plans for your blog to re-blog this article, I will greatly appreciate it. And I leave you the video montage I did yesterday for Ms. Vidal and remind you to please subscribe to my YouTube channel and to give a like to the video, that helps a lot with the placing of the video on YouTube.

(please don’t forget to like and to subscribe to my YouTube channel, thanks!

14 comments

  1. Michael Newberry · 29 Days Ago

    Excellent post thank you.

  2. Sheree · 29 Days Ago

    Always a fountain of knowledge – thank you. This was yet another really interesting post. What a lady! Shame she was cut down in her prime.

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 29 Days Ago

      Yes, it really was a shame, but you know Sheree, the worst thing that happened to her was that she was left aside, purposely, from Art History, especially from Catalunya and Spain, but in general as well. She offered much during her short life, but it is still great art that…in my opinion…outshines some of her compatriots like Miro and Tapies…thank you Sheree and all the best, my wishes for a lovely weekend,
      Francisco

  3. Brad Osborne · 29 Days Ago

    This is exactly why this series is so good and so important. It brings to life the unheard and unseen that have moved into our past without the opportunity to know who these artists were and how much they contributed to our world at large. This was an exceptional post on an exceptional woman and artist. Well done, my friend!

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 29 Days Ago

      Thank you Brad, and yes, you are absolutely right, there are so many good, excellent artists both females and males that have been left forgotten and so many bad ones, terrible ones, that have been given so many spaces in museums! I think it is time to revise the Art History and museums! I really appreciate your contributions because they add so much to the post! Thanks again and take good care,
      Francisco

  4. beth · 29 Days Ago

    what a strong, creative, talented pioneer ,way ahead of her time in so many ways

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 29 Days Ago

      Yes, that she was, she chronicled her times, she was a feminist during days when it was very hard to be…and a great artist! Thank you so much! I really think that Art History has to be revised to look for the bad ones and remove them from the museums and replace them with very good ones, great ones, that have been neglected. Take good care and all the best,
      Francisco

  5. Anna Waldherr · 6 Days Ago

    I remember in college (many years ago) arguing w/ a male student about the talent of female artists and why there were “so few”. I wish I had known then what I know now.

    • Francisco Bravo Cabrera · 6 Days Ago

      Hello Anna, unfortunately art history never worried about mentioning the great female artists that have always been there. The series will continue until the whole story is told. Thank you Anna

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