Portrait of the French journalist and society columnist René Halphen. Oil on canvas painting, relined and mounted on cardboard. Signed, dedicated and dated in the lower left corner: "To my dear friend René Halphen with great affection. J. GIL BERGASA, 1915". Carved wooden Montparnasse style frame.
Justino Gil Bergasa was a Spanish painter of portraits, landscapes and genre scenes. Born in Zaragoza in 1890, he began his artistic studies at the School of Arts and Crafts in his native city. He then moved to Madrid, where he joined the studio of the painter Eduardo Chicharro y Agüera (1873-1949), where he remained from 1909 to 1912. From this date onwards, he became very famous for the numerous portraits he painted for the bourgeoisie and aristocracy, both in Madrid and in Biarritz (France), the favourite holiday destination of Spanish high society.
After obtaining a grant from the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid in 1913, he travelled to England, Holland and France. In 1914 he held his first solo exhibition of 47 works, including portraits, landscapes and genre scenes. In 1919 he married Sofia Ochoa de Luxán, a young woman of aristocratic descent and grandniece of Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz, one of the best Spanish portrait painters of the 19th century. Shortly after his marriage, he founded a carpet and tapestry factory called Los Pontones, leaving painting to the private sphere. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War on 18 July 1936, a serious conflict broke out with his workers and he was murdered by them on 22 August at the age of 46.
René François Adolphe Halphen was a French journalist and translator who worked in Spain. He was born in Paris on 22 January 1864, the fifth son of a wealthy businessman specializing in jewellery and precious stones, with business interests in Manila, Philippines, a Spanish colony until 1898. Little is known about him, except that he was linked to the Northern Spanish Railway Company and knew the entire Spanish aristocracy, which explains why he worked as a society columnist in various Madrid newspapers such as El Gráfico (1904), Gran Mundo and Sport (1906-1907), La Correspondencia de España (1910-1916) and in the magazine Blanco y Negro. He signed his columns with the pseudonym "Madrizzy". He was particularly sought after as a columnist in Biarritz, where he died on 1 December 1931 at the age of 67, and is buried in the Parisian cemetery of Montmartre.
Sources: Señas de identidad. Pintura y regionalismo en Aragón (1898-1939), Alberto Castán Chocarro (2016); Wikipedia; Archives de France.
Artist: Justino Gil Bergasa (1890-1936).
Signed and dated in the lower left corner.
Medium: Oil on canvas.
Condition: Very good condition.
Dimensions: 46 x 38 cm. / 18 x 15 in.
Frame: 65 x 57 cm. / 25 ½ x 22 ½ in. Wood, very good condition.