MAELLA, Mariano Salvador de
(b. 1739, Valencia, d. 1819, Madrid)


Spanish painter, son of the painter Mariano Maella who was his first teacher. He moved to Madrid, where he studied sculpture with Felipe de Castro in Madrid who introduced the Neoclassical taste to the Hispanic sculpture. In 1752, he enters the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, where he is in the service of Antonio González Velázquez, the painting teacher of the institution. This relationship will lead the marriage with his daughter, Maria González Velázquez some years later, in 1767. In 1757 he made a trip to America, then in the beginning of 1758 he went to Rome. At about 1764 he returned to Madrid and started a professional career.

Later he became painter of the chamber to the king and director general of the Academy of San Fernando. Along with Bayeu in 1775 he was commissioned to repaint and restore the damaged canvases by Juan de Borgoña in the cloister of the cathedral of Toledo. As an engraver, he illustrated the vignettes published with the works of Francisco Quevedo in 1772. One of his pupils was Vicente López y Portaña.

His life represents a perfect model of an artist of the Enlightenment. Before his services to the "intruder government" of José I interrupted his career, Maella was the most important representative of the artistic Spanish Enlightenment, his life and his artistic evolution reflecting what the government of the period of Enlightenment expected from their artists. Contrary to the advanced positions of Goya, figures like Bayeu or Maella formed the guides of the good taste. The career of Mariano Salvador Maella summarizes this ideal perfectly: education in San Fernando's Academy; a trip to Rome to contemplate the great classic works; subsequent professional career as a teacher in the Academy of Fine Arts and as a painter of the king; the stylistic influence of Felipe de Castro, Antonio González Velázquez and, especially, of Anton Raphael Mengs; his contribution to the world of the portraits; etc. All these characteristics, wisely cultivated by Maella, allowed him to prosper in the Court, in hard competition with the "clan Bayeu", and to grow into the main propagandist of the enlightened mentality until the "mistaken" choice in 1808 when, being in the favour of the new king, Jose I, he fell in disgrace of Fernando VII, who eulogized Vicente Lopez, the new controller of the royal taste. This wrong choice broke off a successful career in the service to the Monarchy.

He died lonely and forgotten in Madrid in 1819.