Emilio Benlliure Y Morales ( Valencia 1866 – 1930 ), Being skating on thin ice
Signed ( E. Benlliure ) terracotta high 12 cm placed on an equilateral wooden triangle with 18,5 cm side.
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The history of 19th century sculpture is full of artists specializing in the representation of sketches of anecdotal taste often populated by animals, too soon fallen into oblivion. One of these is definitely Emilio Benlliure Y Morales, belonging to the famous Valencian artists’ family, active between the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, able to achieve an international success.
Composed by able painters and sculptors, the Benlliure family counts among its most celebrated exponents, surely José Benlliure Gil, born in 1855 and died in 1937, one of the most important 19th-century Valencian painters, his son Peppino Benlliure Ortiz, born in 1884 and died just over thirty in 1916, and sculptor Mariano Benlliure Gil, born in 1862 and died in 1947. It was certainly José and Mariano’s father, Juan Antonio Benlliure Tomás, to infuse the artistic vocation to the family, coming from a polite education which made him, in a narrow space of time, a lover of artistic practices. Another two brothers of José, Blas Benlliure Gil and Juan Antonio Benlliure Gil, also very famous painters, must be remembered.
In the small sculpture presented here, Emilio locks in a terracotta a cautious and a great movement moment: a child, a straw hat on his head, wearing a sleeveless jacket, rides a pig, his playmate, when his carefree, infantile gaiety is disturbed by a small mastiff that, unmoved by its cumbersome presence, teats the left rear paw of its rival, grabbing a small besom between the jaws.
The scene is presented as a piece of everyday peasant life, executed with leisurely and expressive freedom from the hand of Benlliure, able to make the range of feelings and expressions of individual characters, captured with absolute sense of truth in the dynamism of the picture.