LÓPEZ Y PORTAÑA, Vicente
(b. 1772, Valencia, d. 1850, Madrid)
Spanish painter. Primarily a portraitist, he was influenced by Mengs, whose style he continued into the 19th century.
In 1785 he entered the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Carlos in Valencia at the age of 13. Within four years the prodigious artist had won a number of prizes for his work, including his painting of Tobias Restoring his Father's Sight (today in the Museo de Bellas Artes, Valencia) and was awarded a scholarship to the Academia de San Fernando in Madrid. During his few formative years in Madrid he was strongly influenced by the work of the leading academicians, notably Mariano Salvador Maella and Gregorio Forro, whose style continued the tradition established earlier in the century by Anton Raphael Mengs. In 1790 López returned to Valencia and became vice-director of painting at the Academia. The majority of the artist's work from his early phase however is religious in subject matter.
In 1795 he married Maria Piquer, they had two sons: Bernardo López y Piquer and Luis, who were also painters, following their father's style but with little accomplishments. Following the death of his wife in 1814 however, López was summoned to Madrid by Ferdinand VII, to whom he was appointed Pintor de Cámara, and within a short time he was appointed first court painter, replacing Maella. (Ferdinand VII preferred him to Goya.) In 1817 he became director of the Academia of San Femando, and in 1823 director of the Prado.
Vicente López was a prolific painter executing many religious, allegorical, historic and mythological scenes, but he specialized in portraits. During his long career he painted nearly every notable person in Spain during the first half of the 1800s.
In 1826, López painted a portrait of Francisco Goya when the famous master visited the court from Bordeaux, where the Aragonese painter was then living. Goya was then 80 and would die two years later. This portrait is one of López's most lively and best known works.
Vicente López spent the remainder of his life in Madrid painting portraits of statesmen, academics, and other important figures, as well as dramatic and emotional religious subjects. When he died he was court painter of Queen Isabella II. He was seventy eight years old.