Friday, April 29, 2016
José Villegas Cordero
José Villegas Cordero (1844 –1921 was a Spanish painter of historical, genre and costumbrism scenes.
His father ran a barbershop, and his family had their doubts about an artistic career. But, in 1860, when he was still only sixteen, he sold one of his works at the "Exposición Sevillana" for 2,000 Reales. This changed his family's mind and he was apprenticed to the painter José María Romero López, staying with him for two years before enrolling at the Escuela de Bellas Artes de Sevilla.
He went on to work in Madrid, Rome and Morocco.
The 1890s began quietly but, in 1896, his younger brother Ricardo (who was also an artist) drowned after he fell off a boat on the Guadalquivir. This plunged him into depression and he began painting works of an ecclesiastical nature. Two years later, he was appointed Director of the "Academia española de Bellas Artes en Roma". In 1901, in recognition of his work there, he was named Director of the Museo del Prado; abandoning his studio in Rome and returning to Madrid.
He held that post until 1918 and presided over a major reorganization. During that time, he also established a new reputation as a portrait painter. He resigned due to negative publicity following a jewellery theft by one of the museum's guards.