José María Rodríguez Acosta

Granada, 1878 - Granada, 1941

  • On the Balcony


José María Rodríguez-Acosta was born in Granada on 25 February 1878. In 1889 he completed his primary studies and began training as an artist with the master José Larrocha and at the Granada School of Arts and Crafts. Between 1890 and 1895 he furthered his studies at the Faculty of Science in Granada University, which he combined with painting, and also befriended the painter López Mezquita. In 1899 he settled in Madrid in order to devote himself to painting. As a pupil of Emilio Sala he made many trips to Paris. In 1900 he visited the Exposition Universelle and began a series of landscapes of Granada and genre scenes. In 1904 he received an honorary mention at the National Exhibition for Pastoral de Longo; in 1906 he was awarded the second-place medal at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts for En el santuario (“At the Shrine”); in 1908 he obtained a medal first-class at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts for Gitanos del Sacromonte (“Gypies of the Sacromonte”); in 1910 he painted La tentación de la montaña (“The Temptation on the Mount”), for which he received a full commandership of the order of Alfonso X; and in 1912 he secured the medal of honour at the International Exhibition in Amsterdam for En el santuario. In 1913 Rodríguez-Acosta travelled to France and Switzerland, staying in Paris and Geneva, and also made his first trip to Egypt.

When the First World War broke out he sought refuge in Granada and began building his studio and home – a traditional Carmen with a garden – near the Alhambra and practically abandoned painting. In 1923 he was involved in starting up the Revista de Occidente founded by Ortega y Gasset. Five years later his Carmen and studio in Granada was complete and he slowly returned to painting. He took part in the exhibition of “A Hundred Years of Spanish Painting” shown in Belgium and Holland. He travelled to the United States and Canada in 1932; to Germany and Russia in 1933; and to Egypt, India and Africa in 1934. He also took part in the Venice Biennale with Desnudo de la mantilla (“Nude in a Mantilla”) and established the Rodríguez-Acosta Foundation that was based in his Granada home.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out Rodríguez-Acosta isolated himself in his Granada studio and gradually returned to painting. He produced still-lifes and a few nudes, most of which would remain unfinished. Between 1939 and 1940 he concentrated on painting female nudes from a new approach laden with symbolism.

Rodríguez-Acosta died in Granada on 19 March 1941 after a rapid illness. A painting he was working on was left unfinished in his studio: a female nude which later came to be called La Noche (“Night”) owing to its clear reference to the sculpture by Michelangelo on the tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici.

Miguel Ángel Revilla Uceda