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MAXAM Foundation - MAXAM Collection - Artists - Martínez Abades, Juan

Martínez Abades, Juan

Martínez Abades, Juan
Gijón, 1862 - Madrid, 1920
Gijón, 1862 - Madrid, 1920

With the advent of industrialisation, the new bourgeoisie of Asturias at the end of the nineteenth century demanded realist pictorial works to decorate their residences. Martínez Abades was outstanding in this ambience because of his extensive production of marine and port themes.

As a child, the artist from Gijón showed a talent for painting and music. His skill as a painter began to turn into technique in 1880, when he moved to Madrid to attend the School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving, while at the same time frequenting the studios of his countrymen Ignacio Suárez Llanos and José Grajera.

In these first years the theme of his paintings were mostly landscapes, as well as portraits, decorations and historical scenes like “La muerte de Mesalina“ (Death of Messalina), his first entry in a National Fine Art Exhibition in 1884. His Art then began to focus on the reproduction of the changing tones of water, until in 1886 he made his first seascapes, which would later dominate the rest of his work.

He lived in Rome from 1888 to 1890, with a scholarship of merit from the Oviedo Provincial Assembly, to attend the Academia di San Luca. During these two years he travelled throughout Italy, visiting museums, collections and sea ports, always an inspiration to him.

When he returned to Madrid he began to contribute to the newspaper supplement "Blanco y Negro". He won second prizes at the National Exhibitions of 1890 and 1892 and a first prize in 1901. In the European sphere, his works were present at the International Exhibitions of Berlin (1891) and Chicago (1893).

The mastery of his reproductions of port scenes and steamships made him the ideal author to illustrate the 1912 and 1914 UEE calendars, since in 1911 the company had started supplying the Spanish Navy. This was an emblematic occasion in Spanish industrialisation which resulted in new iconographies for the almanac, a standard-bearer nationwide at that time.

In his final years, painting gave way to music in Martínez Abades’s creativity. Genre music and the Spanish folk cuplé songs were styles he nurtured, and he left compositions of great tradition for Asturias’s folklore including "Paloma blanca".


1912, Martínez Abades, Juan

Greeting at see
Oil on canvas
74 x 44,5 cm

1914, Martínez Abades, Juan

Shooting a canon on desk
Oil on canvas
76x45 cm.


Last update 2019.03.19
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