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Chronology of Quintanilla's

Life and Work


A Very Brief Aesthetic Survey of Quintanilla's Development

Selected Shows




June 12, 1893
Leon Gerardo Luis Quintanilla Isasi Cagigal Zerrageria is born to a conservative family, with aristocratic ties, in Santander, Spain. His friends, throughout his life, either called him Luis or Quinta. And he signed his name Luis Quintanilla.


Photographs of Quintanilla's Family

The Spring of

At the age of eighteen Quintanilla runs off to Paris to become an artist. Through a prostitute who lived in his Montmartre hotel, Toto la Blonde, the "protectoress of young artists and prostitutes," he meets Juan Gris, and under his fellow countryman's influence becomes a Cubist.






August 1915

First one man show in Paris, at the Galerie Marcel Panadil.


At the age of 22 Quintanilla leaves a wartime Paris and returns to his home in Santander. Spain remains neutral through World War I.


Fall of 1916
Quintanilla moves into a studio in Madrid. He meets Juan Negrin, Julio Alvarez del Vayo, Luis Araquistain, Pepe el Gordo, and other writers, intellectuals, artists, and future leaders of the Spanish Republic. At this time only Araquistain is actively engaged among this group in politics.


When the war comes to an end Quintanilla returns to Paris, renting a studio on the Rue Chaplain, close to the Carrefoure Vavin in Montparnasse.


In the spring of 1922 Quintanilla meets Ernest Hemingway in a Montparnasse bar, where they "catch la gran borachera." Hemingway plies Quintanilla with countless questions about Spain and the artist tells him about the San Fermins in Pamplona.




Quintanilla becomes disgusted with the evolving art scene in Paris and returns to Madrid. The Duke of Alba becomes his patron.


1924 - 1926
He receives a grant to study the techniques of fresco painting in Florence, Italy. In Florence he abandons Cubism and begins to develop a more personal artistic style.


1926 - 1928
He settles in Hendaye, France, on the Spanish border, in order to paint his first major ensemble of frescoes in the Spanish consulate. His neighbor in the Hotel Imatz is none other than Don Miguel de Unamuno, who's in exile during the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera.


He moves into an 11th story studio on the Calle Fernando el Catolico in Madrid. From this studio, near the Parque del Oeste, it is possible to see much of Madrid.


June 1929 He finishes the frescoes in the Spanish consulate in Hendaye. These frescoes were destroyed by the Franco government after the Spanish Civil War.


September 1,
With Luis Araquistain acting as his sponsor, he joins El Partido Socialista Obrero de Espana. (The Spanish Socialist Workers Party.)


April 12, 1931
National elections are held which become a plebiscite on whether to have a Republic or not. Quintanilla votes for the first time and spends the day with Francisco Largo Caballero as the election results arrive.


April 13, 1931
Quintanilla spends most of the day with Juan Negrin and Luis Araquistain. That evening, accompanied by Negrin, he goes to the Royal Palace and raises the Republic's flag on the palace ensuring that the ouster of the monarchy remains bloodless.


April 14, 1931
The Republic is proclaimed throughout the whole of Spain, ending the longest remaining monarchy in Europe. Alfonso XIII goes into exile in France.


1931 - 1936
Quintanilla paints the frescoes for the Casa del Pueblo, University City, the entry hall for Madrid's Museum of Modern Art, and the Memorial for Pablo Iglesias. Most of these works are destroyed during the civil war or by the Fascists after the war merely because he had painted them.


Spring of 1934
He shows his engravings of Madrid street scenes and life in Madrid's Museum of Modern Art. The show attracts a great deal of attention and he's hailed as a major artist.


Madrid Life and Street Scenes


October 5, 1934
Quintanilla is arrested in his studio for being a member of the Revolutionary Committee which intended to oust the government. He is sent to Madrid's Carcel Modelo to await trial.


Fall and Winter
of 1934
The world's intellectual community immediately rallies to his aid. Andre Malraux circulates the petitions in France, Lady Margo Asquith, the wife of the former Prime Minister, does the same in England. And in the United States Hemingway and John Dos Passos circulate the petitions and arrange for a show of his work. The petitions and protests don't get Quintanilla out of jail but he's allowed, instead, to draw his fellow prisoners.

Drawings of Jail

November 1934
His Madrid etchings are shown at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York. Hemingway and Dos Passos write the catalog.


The Show at the Pierre Matisse Gallery:

Hemingway and Dos Passos Catalog


June 10, 1935
After serving eight months, four days, and three hours in prison Quintanilla is released. That fall his jail drawings are shown and La Carcel por Dentro, a book which was made entirely in jail, is published.


July 1936
The military rises up against the Republic and the civil war begins. On the 19th Quintanilla helps leads the attack on the Montana Barracks, Madrid's most important military base. After the rebels are suppressed Quintanilla is put in charge of the Barracks.


July through September 1936
Quintanilla leads troops in combat on the front lines and participates in the assault on the Alcazar of Toledo. For his involvement in the assault he is put on General Franco's first black list, the first twelve names of those to be executed in the bullring in Burgos.


September 4,

Francisco Largo Caballero becomes Premier.


November 1936
Because the Republic has "many good generals but only one great artist," Juan Negrin orders Quintanilla out of the army. Until May he serves as director of the Republic's intelligence services on the French side of the Basquelands


May 1937
Largo Caballero resigns as Premier, Araquistain quits his post as Ambassador to France, and Juan Negrin becomes the last Premier of the Spanish Republic. Quintanilla proposes to do drawings of the war.


Spring, summer,
and fall of 1937
With a driver who had been wounded on the front Quintanilla traverses the fronts of the war in a car which has to be changed several times. In the fall Quintanilla puts 140 drawings into their final form in Sitges on the Mediterranean coast.


December 1937 All 140 drawings are shown at the Hotel Ritz in Barcelona. They are presented against a stark red background.


The Drawings of the War


War Photographs


January 12, 1938 Encouraged by Hemingway, Jay Allen, Herbert Matthews and other American friends Quintanilla comes to New York to show his drawings.

April 1938

The drawings are shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Hemingway wrote the catalog. The Fascists dip their battle flags into the Mediterranean, cutting the Republic in half.


The Show at the Museum of Modern Art

Hemingway's Catalog

All the Brave


July 30 1938 Quintanilla leaves New York and returns to Barcelona.

Fall of 1938 In Barcelona Quintanilla draws a series of fiercely satirical drawings of the fascists as the Republic crumbles. They are later published in New York as Franco's Black Spain.


Franco's Black Spain


September 29,


January 1939
On the 4th he boards the French Line's S. S. Paris bound for New York. On January 11 he arrives, beginning a 37 year exile.

New York Street Scenes

Life in Manhattan


February 21,
He marries my mother, Jan Speirs, in a simple ceremony in Greenwich, Connecticut.

New York Photographs


April 1, 1939 The Second Spanish Republic dies. General Francisco Franco is now the absolute dictator of Spain.


November 1939
He has a show at the Associated American Artists Gallery in New York. The murals he painted for the Spanish Pavilion of the 1939 World's Fair are shown. They were not hung at the fair for obvious reasons. He writes an open letter in the catalog to Ernest Hemingway in which he sets forth his artistic philosophy.

Quintanilla's Artistic Credo


Love Peace Hate War Murals




January 2, 1940 An only child, I am born. My father now has a family to support.


May - August
He accompanies eight prominent American artists to Hollywood to paint the portraits of the cast in John Ford's The Long Voyage Home.



September 1940 -
June 1941
He teaches the techniques of fresco painting at the University of Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri. In a hall of the Language Arts Building he paints his final large ensemble of murals, depicting Don Quixote in the modern world.


Don Quixote in the Heartland





September 1941 The collaboration with Elliot Paul on making a Spanish rice, Intoxication Made Easy, is published. This is his first humor book.


Intoxication Made Easy


1942 His spoof with Elliot Paul on Hollywood mores, With a Hays Nonny Nonny, is published.


With a Hays Nonny Nonny


October 1943

The Quintanilla family moves into 26 W. 8th Street, in New York's Greenwich Village.

In his studio in New York he begins to develop his American style, painting numerous portraits, New England landscapes, still lifes, water colors, etc.

New York - 1940's

Portraits of the Family

New York and New England Portraits

Still Lifes


Water Colors of Animals


Elliot Paul sits for his portrait as a Picador, the first author to sit for the series of portraits of "Writers as how they see themselves."


The Portraits of Writers as How They See Themselves

About these Portraits

May 1944 The "Totalitarian Europe" water colors and drawings are shown at the Knoedler Galleries in New York.


"Totalitarian Europe" Water Colors


May 7, 1945 Nazi Germany unconditionally surrenders.


1946 Franco's Black Spain, the collection of satirical drawings he did in Barcelona toward the end of the war, is published with an introduction by Richard Watts, Jr.


1947 The illustrated, unabridged Gulliver's Travels is published.


The Illustrated Gulliver's Travels


May 1947 The portrait of Richard Wright as a jigsaw puzzle.


Richard Wright


Late 40's
or early 50's

An illustrated Poe is considered. But the project doesn't materialize.


Edgar Allen Poe

The Raven and The Bells


1950's In his studio in New York Quintanilla further develops his aesthetic by painting portraits, landscapes, still lifes, etc.


Portraits of Friends

New York and New England Portraits


Still Lifes

Drawings and Engravings


Studies and Sketches



1950 Samuel Putnam's translation of Cervantes' Three Exemplary Novels, with illustrations by Quintanilla, is published.


The Illustrated Three Exemplary Novels

August 1956 He begins his collaboration with Joseph Mitchell and provides illustrations for The New Yorker's "Profiles."


New Yorker Profiles


January 1957 He has his first one man show since 1944 at the Galerie Marcel C. Coard on the Avenue Matignon in Paris. Nothing is sold.


March 1957 He flies to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to paint the portrait of Pablo Casals.


Portrait of Pablo Casals


Photographs of Casals and Quintanilla


April 1958 He has his first American show since 1944 at Wildenstein's in New York. No paintings are sold.


October 18, 1958
In order to make his name known once again he moves to Paris, and finds a studio at 61 Franklin D. Roosevelt Avenue, just a block from the Champs Elysee.


Photographs of Quintanilla in Paris


April 1959 Through Pablo Casals' intervention he has a show in the lobby of the Salle Gaveau in Paris.

1960 Illustrations for The Gothic Devil, which wasn't published.


The Gothic Devil


Los Rehenes del Alcazar de Toledo is published. This is his account of the actual events which took place during the Republican siege of the Alcazar at the start of the war.


The late 1960's Though he still has a strong desire to paint, he begins to lose his energy and lags in output.


Old Age


November 20,
Francisco Franco dies.


November 4,
Felipe Gonzalez, the head of Spain's Socialist Party, assures him democracy has returned to Spain. And on the 4th he returns to Madrid.


October 16, 1978 He quietly dies in bed in his home at 29 Quintana.






A Very Brief Aesthetic Survey of Quintanilla's Development



Detail Juanita



Start Here -

1 - Cubism---Modernism

2 - Murals

3 - Etchings

His style always adapted to his theme. Though

he made the drawings of jail soon after the Madrid street scenes

note how different they are. And how they capture an entirely different spirit and mood.

4 - Jail Drawings

And once again his style adapted to his theme.

5 - War Drawings

Further examples of how his approach and style adapted can be

seen in all his other drawings and illustrations. On the Main Menu there are many links.

6 - Love Peace Hate War and Don Quixote Murals

7 - These links (New York and Paris) will take you to the Main Menu.

Most of my reproductions are of work from the forties and fifties, what is

in my own collection. He may have reached his prime in Paris

during the sixties. Unfortunately, I have very few reproductions of

his work from that time. Nor do I know where most of it is today.

New York and Paris

Old Age


"The transcendence of a genuine artist can be understood by any person who merely looks at the extraordinary results of converting a wall, a tablet, a canvas, or a flat board into something with lines and colors which the whole of humanity can admire and look at over many centuries, art being the one eternal value which helps us endure the stormy upheavals of history."

Luis Quintanilla

Translated from Pasatiempo: la vida de un pintor


In a century which greatly prized individuality, even eccentricity, for its own sake, Quintanilla paid a very high price for going his own artistic way. He was modern without truly becoming a Modernist, and he never signed that most modern of artistic credos which declared aesthetics null and void. As he tells us in an open letter he wrote to Ernest Hemingway for his 1939 Associated American Artists' Gallery show, "I believe only in good painting. Abstract or concrete, with ismo or without ismo, come from where it might and go where it will.” This letter could well serve as his own artistic credo and an introduction to his work.

Paul Quintanilla





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Selected Shows