Santiago Rusinol i Prats was a Modern Spanish painter who became one of the leading figures in the Spanish modernism. His artworks are primarily known for the depiction of idyllic gardens often absent of any human presence.
Santiago Rusinol i Prats was born on February 25, 1861, in Barcelona, Spain, to a family of wealthy textile industrialists. As a teenager, Santiago had no interest in textile production, already cultivating a fondness for painting and dreaming of knowing other countries.
At first, Rusinol was self-taught, before enrolling at the Watercolor Center in Barcelona under the teachings of Tomas Moragas. In 1886, Rusinol met Ramon Casas, a fellow novice painter; they formed a strong friendship that lasted for years. He also befriended other to-be distinguished artists such as the French Pierre de Chavannes and Eugene Carriere and the Spanish Ignacio Zuloaga.
Following his grandfather’s death in 1887, Rusinol was freed from the family business and devoted himself exclusively to painting and creativity. In the following year, was held in Barcelona the distinguished World Exhibition, which would profoundly influence Spanish art.
In 1889, Rusinol, along with Casas, made an extensive trip throughout the Spanish region of Catalonia. During this trip, another of Rusinol’s artistic facets would develop, writing. The artists collaborated on an illustrated guide, which Casas created the drawings, and Rusinol, the texts. Both of them became associated with a magazine called l’Avenc, which was focused on several cultural issues while being greatly influenced by modernism. Rusinol also participated in three other Catalan literary and art magazines published by Casas.
Thereafter, the pair of friends set to Paris, where they rented an apartment close to their friends Ignacio Zuloaga, Maurice Utrillo, and Ramon Canudas. There, Rusinol became fascinated and inspired by Impressionism. He became very prolific, producing portraits, landscapes, and urban-themed sketches. Rusinol also provided in the literary field, especially his translation of the works of Charles Baudelaire to Spanish.
In 1896, following a trip to the region of Andalusia, Rusinol became obsessed with scenes of nature, which were transformed by the human hand. The artist began to depict beautiful and often deserted gardens. These paintings were the critical elements for Rusinol’s ascension to fame as an artist. Aside from his striking paintings, these subjects he so fondly explored were also embodied in his book The Abandoned Garden.
During the early 1900s, Rusinol, along with his friends Utrillo, Casas, and Pere Romeu, created artistic cafes inspired by those in Paris such as the Black Cat. This place was much responsible for the revival of the Spanish art scene, as well as one of the places where young Pablo Picasso first exhibited.