Armando Menocal, Cuban (1863 - 1942)

Armando Menocal was among the most prominent Cuban painters of the 19th century, best known for his portraits, landscapes and history subjects. He studied at the Academia de San Alejandro in Havana and later taught there, mentoring generations of Cuban artists. He was influenced by the Impressionists and by the Spanish masters, whose work he saw on a trip to Madrid. In 1891, he designed the Comedy, Music and Orgy allegorical murals for the lobby ceilings of the Grand Theatre of Havana. Around 1893, his painting The Fall of Columbus, showing a defeated-looking Columbus preparing to board a boat, was exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair. The work was highly praised by critics at the time for its emotional resonance, its bold coloration and impressive brushwork.

Menocal is credited with contributing to the renewal of Cuban cultural life at the turn of the 20th century by introducing specifically Cuban themes into art. While Cuban artists had been painting traditional subjects from Western art, such as Greek myths, in a neo-classical style, he was notable for portraying incidents from Cuban history. Apparently he also worked as an illustration artist later in his career, providing works for Condé Nast, as evidenced by numerous extant works by him with the Condé Nast stamp verso.

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