Alejandro Martínez Pérez
352 pages; 323 color illustrations; hardcover with chrome; 22 x 27,5 cm
Spanish; published by the CEEH, Biblioteca Nacional de España; 2018
Luis Paret y Alcázar (1746‒1799) is one of the most interesting figures on Spain’s eighteenth-century art scene. A scholarly artist who led an eventful life, even today he is denied his rightful place in the theoretical discourse of his period because of an epithet – the ‘Spanish Watteau’ – that labels him as the foremost representative of Rococo art in the country and influences our perception of him by narrowing our vision of the true extent of his work. He is likewise hailed as a painter specialised in views of harbours, flower paintings and courting scenes, though his training and background reveal that there is much more to him.
A few aesthetic judgements and historiographical criteria of the last century repeatedly compared his oeuvre with that of Francisco de Goya, seeking to contrast Paret’s scholarly nature with the Aragonese artist’s brilliant innate talent. This gave rise to an image of a ‘spontaneous and joyful’ artist who was ‘overly’ influenced by French taste. This study sets out to show, by analysing his artistic culture, that the Madrid-born Paret was fully in tune with the sociohistorical context of his time and to prove through his drawings that his supposed heterodoxy stems from the diversity of his artistic interests.
This catalogue raisonné brings together a corpus of 165 drawings that are chronologically arranged and provide an insight into Paret’s creative processes and the themes and motivations that spurred his work throughout his career. It also includes as appendices a reconstruction of the contents of the artist’s library, a list of his autograph prints and a list of missing works known only through prints. This book is also the catalogue of the exhibition with the same title on view at the Biblioteca Nacional de España.
Alejandro Martínez earned a PhD in art history from the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid with a thesis on Luis Paret y Alcázar’s artistic culture. He has recently published Historia de las Artes entre los Antiguos (2014), a translation of J. J. Winckelmann’s history of ancient art based on Diego Antonio Rejón de Silva’s manuscript of 1784, and Patrimonio en conflicto. Memoria del botín napoleónico recuperado (1815‒1819) (with Esperanza Navarrete, 2015). He has also written various articles for specialist journals and studies on Spanish art and cultural history of the second half of the 1700s.