Rogelio de Egusquiza y Barrena
(Santander, 1845 – Madrid, 1915)
The painter Rogelio de Egusquiza y Barrena was born on 20 July 1845 in Santander. Despite leaving at a relatively early age for Paris, where he principally lived and worked between 1869 and 1914, he maintained lifelong connections with his native region. French critics of the day recognized and praised Egusquiza’s work: both his genre paintings, which he exhibited at the official Salons and at the Petit gallery in the 1870s and 1880s and which were close to the style of Fortuny; and his later output, which is so closely identified with the iconography of Richard Wagner, of whom he became one of the composer’s principal exponents, earning Egusquiza his greatest accolades. After his first meeting with Wagner, he decided to devote his career to doing works on Wagnerian themes; mostly portraits of the characters rather than specific scenes. During his visits to Germany, he also created portraits of Arthur Schopenhauer (posthumous) and King Ludwig II of Bavaria and wrote an article for the newsletter Bayreuther Blätter called "Über die Beleuchtung der Bühne" (On Stage Lighting).
Egusquiza became one of the group of Symbolist artists inspired by the composer and his universe and embarked on a series of works that reveal a new concept of art as a vehicle for the sacred and mystical.
At the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, Egusquiza presented his series of five prints on Parsifal, which earned him a silver medal, soon followed by the Legion of Honour. For twenty years the artist’s work focused on Wagnerian themes, from which he only moved away at the end of the century with a new interest in the Spanish Golden Age.