Francisco Llorens


Francisco Llorens was born on 10 April 1874 and was christened in the parish church of San Jorge. He was the youngest of three children born to José Llorens Batista, who worked in the importation of groceries and as a shipping agent, and Paulina Díaz de Villar, who came from a local bourgeois family.

He studied baccalaureate at Dequidt College in his home town. On his father’s wishes he started studying Trade and Commerce at university, but his great love for painting took him to the Art School of A Coruña, where he studied under Román Navarro – he always referred to him as his greatest teacher – and in 1892 he enrolled at the Special School for Painting, Sculpture and Engraving (the San Fernando School of Fine Arts in Madrid), where he studied under Carlos de Haes.

In 1893 he completed his training at the Sorolla workshop, and learnt from this artist the value and passion for light in landscapes. He met other painters such as Josep Benlliure and Manuel Benedito Vives. In December of this same year he took part in an exhibition held at the Fine Arts Centre in Madrid, entitled “Impressions from a journey”.

In 1897 he received his first professional commission; the Casino of A Coruña ordered some decorative panels with landscapes painted on them. 

He was awarded an honourable mention at the National Fine Arts Exhibition in 1899. In the same year he prepared his examination for a grant to go to the Spanish Academy in Rome, which he eventually obtained after a lengthy and controversial process.  

On 30 April 1902 he set out for Italy with the grant, travelling via Barcelonawhere he met Ramón Casas, Santiago Rusiñol and Gaudí. On board the “Perseus” he sketched some pictures on the journey from Barcelona to Naples.

He stayed in Rome for four years, collaborating with the newspaper in A Coruña El Noroeste, sending them his impressions under the pseudonym “Sor Checco”. In Rome he met other interns such as Sotomayor, Chicharro, Benedito and above all, Piñole and Bacarisas, with whom he became very good friends.

In 1903 he travelled around the north of Italy, and visited Bologna, Milan and Venice. From there he went to Paris (where he became enamoured of Cezanne), and from there to the Netherlands. 

The Emerald Valley (Valley of Barcia) (1912)
Oil on canvas 71 x 99 cm
Barrié Foundation Collection

He stayed in Bruges for almost a year, deeply impressed with the Belgian landscape, and then went back to Italy. He won the extraordinary award for interns in Rome for his picture “The Holm Oak” and other smaller paintings. The King of Italy then bought two of his paintings, “Peasants in Flanders” and “Among the rocks”. 

He was awarded an honourable mention at the National Fine Arts Exhibition in 1899

He came back to A Coruña in 1906, and was often present at the social gatherings organized by his friend Emilia Pardo Bazán in her stately home in Meiras. He lived with his family on Calle Picavia until 1913. 

Betanzos. The three boats (1919)
Oil on canvas 101 x 25 cm
Barrié Foundation Collection

In 1907 he won third prize at the National Fine Arts Exhibition for his picture “The Holm Oak”. He painted “The Obelisk”, one of his best-known works, when he came back from Italy; J.J. Luna described it as follows: “There is a real evocation of French impressionism consolidated by drawing – Sisley, Pisarro – and by a taste for modernism, up to date, and no subjection to the exercise of decoration”.  

In 1908 he won second prize at the National Fine Arts Exhibition for his picture “Pastoral”. He took part in the Regional Exhibition of Galicia in Santiago (at San Clemente College) and painted the official poster for the event; he won one of the three first prizes. He designed various posters for the Real Club Deportivo football team in A Coruña.

In 1909 he took part in the International Exhibition in Barcelona and the Regional Exhibition of Galician Art in Santiago de Compostela.

In 1910, he once again took part in the National Fine Arts Exhibition in Madrid. 

On 21 July 1912 he was unanimously voted in as a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in A Coruña. He took part in the National Fine Arts Exhibition in Madrid. 

In 1913 he was awarded the Chair of Artistic Drawing at the Trade School of Barcelona, where he lived for a year before moving definitively to Madrid. From this time on he spent the winters in Madrid and the summers in Galicia.

In 1916 he was elected Chairman of the painting section at the Fine Arts Association.

In 1918 he lived in Betanzos (in the province of A Coruña) and painted numerous pictures in the light of autumn, which was less usual than his pictures with a clear summer light. On 28 September he got married in the chapel of Dequidt College; his bride was Eva Rodríguez – the youngest of the five children born to José Rodríguez Martínez, known in A Coruña as Doctor Rodríguez. They had two children, Eva (1920) and Rosario (1925), although his wife died in 1925.

In 1919 he became an Associate Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in A Coruña.

In 1922 he won the Medal of Honour at the National Fine Arts Exhibition for his picture “Rías Bajas”.

In 1924 he held an exhibition at the Galician Centre in Madrid. He spent the summer in Perillo and Bastiagueiro (in Oleiros, A Coruña), where he made numerous sketches which he later turned into paintings in his studio in Madrid, on Calle Santa Engracia No. 6. 

In 1925 he was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Carlos III. In the summer he spent a few days with his wife and daughter Eva in Cambados, painting and sketching streets and other places in the town.

In 1926 he took part in the Contemporary Spanish Art Exhibition in Buenos Aires.

On 12 December 1928 he was proposed for a chair on the Royal Academy of the Galician Language by Eladio Rodríguez Losada, Ángel del Castillo and Francisco Martínez Morás, and took possession on 23 February 1929

The house where Francisco Llorens spent his summers in Mera

In 1929, he was made a Knight of the Order of the Crown of Belgium. He was commissioned with the organization of the Galicia Pavilion at the Ibero-American Exhibition in Seville, for which he produced a great frieze about fishing in Galicia. It is currently held in the Museum in Lugo.

Francisco Llorens with his daughter Rosario in 1929 and the artist’s palette (Barrié Foundation Collection, A Coruña)

In 1930 he held exhibitions in Belgium and Holland. He was appointed a member of the Royal Academy of Galicia.

From 1931 to 1934 he spent his summers in Mera (A Coruña).

After the coup d’état in 1936, he kept on living in his studio on Calle Santa Engracia in Madrid together with his daughters. He used Calle José Marañón as a model on various occasions, although he now painted considerably less. In 1937 he went to live in Valencia with his family. After the war he took up painting again in Madrid, and spent his summers in Galicia (in Sada, A Coruña), painting landscapes.

In 1941 he held an exhibition At the Salón Cano in Madrid, consisting of landscapes of Galicia, still lifes and landscapes from the botanic gardens in Valencia.

December 1942 he was appointed Member of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts, where he took possession in June 1943 and read a speech entitled “Galicia and the landscape”.

He was appointed Honorary Member of the Provincial Academy of Fine Arts of A Coruña on 12 December 1943.

His health started to get worse from 1945 onwards and he suffered from memory loss. His last painting, “The red sail” was left unfinished.

He died on 11 February 1948 in Madrid, where he was buried next to his wife, although the remains of both were later removed to the cemetery of San Amaro in A Coruña by the City Council. His funeral was held at the church of Santa Lucía in A Coruña.

Francisco Llorens, 1946 (the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Galicia)

After his death a large number of exhibitions were organized:
In August 1948 an exhibition entitled “Francisco Llorens” was held in homage to the artist, organized by the City Council of A Coruña and the Fine Arts Academy.

In 1958 an exhibition was held at the Fine Arts Association in Madrid, sponsored by the Galician Centre.

In 1972 an anthological exhibition was held at the Contemporary Art Museum in Madrid, entitled “Llorens. 1874-1948”.

In 1975 an exhibition was held at the Provincial Government of A Coruña, entitled “Anthological Exhibition of the artist Francisco Llorens. 1st centenary of his birth”. 

1980: “Plastic Art in Galicia”, Caixavigo, Vigo.

1986: “Galician artists in the CAMV collection”, Vigo.

1988: “Francisco Llorens and his times”, Pedro Barrié de la Maza Foundation, A Coruña.

1991: “Francisco Llorens”, Caixa Galicia Foundation, A Coruña.

1997: “Francisco Llorens: drawings”, Caixa Galicia Foundation. The exhibition travelled to Vigo, Lugo, Ourense, A Coruña and Madrid.
“Galicia, a unique land”, Ferrol.
“The Caixavigo Collection”, A Coruña. “Self-portrait: the artist before his image”, Caixa Galicia Foundation, Ourense, Lugo, Vigo and A Coruña.

1998: “Francisco Llorens”, sponsored by the City Council of A Coruña; Caixavigo, Kiosko Alfonso, A Coruña.

In 2000 the Culture Museum was opened in Sada. Town Council of Sada.
2002: “Galicia, from Brocos to Llorens. Landscapes and peoples”. Caixa Galicia Foundation, Seville.

2003: “Seas: the mirror of the sea in 19th and 20th-century Galician art”. Museum of the Sea in Galicia, Vigo.

2009: “Cabanillas and the artists of his time”, Wine Route Museum, Cambados.

2009: “Cabanillas and the artists of his time”, Museum of Pontevedra, Pontevedra.