There’s no question that Spain has some of the most famous paintings in the history of the world, but how much do you know about their Spanish painters? Many of these artists have left long-lasting impacts on Spanish culture. You might even recognize a few of their names from Spanish class, pop culture or movies.
Many of these artists are intertwined with major historical events for their participation in them or representation of them. Therefore, knowing more about the painters, in addition to their paintings, is a great way to learn about Spanish history and culture. A key vocabulary word is obramaestra or masterpiece.
Famous Spanish painters you should know
1. Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)
Starting with one of the most famous painters of all time, we have Pablo Picasso. Many people don’t know that he was alive quite recently. He’s most famous for his Cubism period, but he actually had several other periods earlier in his career, like his blue period where he painted El viejo guitarrista ciego, which is currently hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago.
His most famous work is often considered Guernica, which is hanging at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. He Painted Guernica in Paris as a representation of the horrible bombing of the city Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Interestingly, Picasso refused for Guernica to return to Spain during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, and it toured around the world to showcase the reality of the bombing. After his death, Guernica came to Spain.
2. Diego Velázquez (1599 – 1660)
Have you heard of the famous painting Las Meninas? It’s known as one of the most analyzed paintings ever due to its complexity. It was painted by the famous painter Diego Velázquez. Velázquez famously could only paint what he could see, so how is it that he painted himself in the painting? He cleverly used a series of mirrors to create the gorgeous scene.
He’s made many more paintings throughout his life, and was even one of the royal painters for Felipe IV. He painted many different types of works, including portraits of the royal family and depictions of fables.
3. El Greco (1541 – 1614)
During the Spanish Renaissance, this artist became one of the most influential painters in Spain. Given the nickname El Greco because he was Greek, you can identify his paintings by his signature in Greek letters. He was hired by Felipe II to make paintings for the church of Santo Domingo el Antiguo in Toledo.
El Greco had hoped to become a royal painter for Felipe II, but unfortunately, Felipe II didn’t like El Greco’s style enough to do so. Nowadays, his most famous work is El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz, but El Expolio and Vista de Toledo are other notable paintings.