Ángel Cortellini Sánchez

Madrid, 1858 - Madrid, 1912

  • The Port of Algeciras


Ángel Cortellini Sánchez, the son of the excellent painter Ángel María Cortellini Hernández, was born in Madrid in the second half of the nineteenth century.

He learned to paint at a very early age, being taught by his father in his studio, and later studied at the San Fernando School of Fine Arts. A few years later his father encouraged him to make a trip to Italy to further his knowledge, as he himself had done, and he travelled around the cities of Milan, Turin and Genoa, among others.

His father had been a perfectionist and a foremost practitioner of portraiture, landscapes and genre scenes who explored practically all the genres except for marine painting. It was his son who later took up seascapes, learning from the great masters; he would visit harbours and carefully observe the sea, sketching the various ships and smaller vessels and details of the hundreds of elements to be found in a harbour.

Indeed, nothing escapes him; he pays attention to everything that floats, be it a seagull, a ship, a boat, moorings, a buoy or life on board. He was so attracted by the sea that he decided to explore and investigate it and sought to capture its changing appearance on very different days: one day, in a particular spot, he would observe it in dead calm and the following day, from the same place, he would sketch a stormy, wild sea with a completely different sky.

Ángel Cortellini Sánchez not only painted seascapes but also explored naval actions and sought to capture historic events, as in the following pictures now in the Museo Naval in Madrid: El navío “Asia” corriendo un temporal en 1824 (“The ‘Asia’ Weathering a Storm in 1824”), Combate de una fragata, al mando de Blas de Lezo, contra el navío inglés “Stanhope” en 1710 (“Combat between a Frigate Commanded by Blas de Lezo and the English ‘Stanhope’ in 1710”), El combate del navío “Glorioso” con el navío británico “Dartmouth” (19 de octubre 1747) [“Combat between the ‘Glorioso’ and the British ‘Dartmouth’ (19 October 1747)”] and El combate de Trafalgar, Rendición del navío francés “Bucentaure” (21 de octubre de 1805) [“The Battle of Trafalgar, Surrender of the French ‘Bucentaure’ (21 October 1805)”].

The Museo Naval in Madrid also owns a large collection that allows us to trace his career as a painter of seascapes.

The inspiration Cortellini drew from the paintings belonging to the various collections of Rafael Monleón, who was also a painter, restorer and model-maker and his predecessor at the Museo Naval, helped him establish his own school with his well thought-out and methodical style.

But studying the models of 18th-century shipyards and arsenals at the Museo Naval allowed Cortellini to sink his scalpel into the bowels of vessels, making a perfect and detailed dissection of the ships he viewed in order to use his imagination to depict the sea and ships – the subjects he best mastered – with his own particular architecture.

Like his father, he also espoused other genres – portraits, landscape, genre scenes, among others – and took part in National Exhibitions of Fine Arts. In 1881 he entered the following paintings: Captura del vapor “Tornado” por la fragata de guerra “La Gerona” (“Capture of the Steamship ‘Tornado’ by the Warship ‘La Gerona’”), La “Numancia” en su viaje de circunnavegación (“The ‘Numancia’ during its Voyage of Circumnavigation”) and La fragata blindada “Victoria” (“The Armoured Frigate 'Victoria’”).

Miguel Godoy Sánchez