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 Frederico Beltran-Masses  (1885 - 1949)

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Lived/Active: Spain/Cuba      Known for: upper class figure and genre painting, landscapes

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Biography from Papillon Gallery:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Federico Armando Beltran-Masses was born in 1885 in Guaira de la Melena, Cuba. His father was a Spanish military envoy to Cuba. After the war between the United States and Cuba ended in 1899, the family returned to Spain.

Beltran-Masses studied with the painter Sorrolla at L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Barcelone.   In 1905, he traveled to Madrid to study the collection of Spanish and European art at the Prado museum.  In 1916, he moved to Paris where he received an honor from the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Commissions were received in the United States, Belgium, Italy, and India.  In 1919, he took charge of organizing the Exposition Hispano-Français des Beaux-Arts. In 1920, he exhibited at the Venice Biennale an exotic nude titled Salome, which is now in the Museo Casa Lis in Salamanca, Spain.

Beltran-Masses exhibited at the Wildenstein Galleries in New York and Palm Beach, Florida in 1925.  For the August 1925 issue of International Studio Magazine, Marguerite Tjader wrote an extensive article about the artist.

The Musée des Offices de Florence bought several of his self-portraits.  In 1928, he was named Commissioner General of l'Exposition International des Beaux-Arts in commemoration of the centenary of Francisco de Goya.  He was a member of l'Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Madrid and was named Chevalier du Légion d'Honneur in France, and a Knight of the order of Malta.  In 1934, Beltran-Masses
exhibited at the Royal Watercolor Society in London, and in 1938 at the Burlington Galleries.

Beltran-Masses began his career painting landscapes and figurative compositions. Later in his career he primarily painted portraits.  He is best known for his portraits of royalty, society figures and movie stars.  He was a good friend of Rudolf Valentino and painted two large portraits of the actor that hung in Valentino's Hollywood home.  Valentino had another painting by Beltran-Masses of a famous Spanish dancer that hung over his bed.  These works were sold at auction in Los Angeles shortly after Valentino's death.  Beltran-Masses also painted a large portrait of Douglas Fairbanks.

The artist developed a unique style; evident in his work is the influence of the Spanish masters but with a decidedly modern flavor.  He painted many large canvases often with bizarre and beautiful women; his work is distinguished by his use of shades of deep blue.  Nighttime settings give his subjects an eerie contrast with star-studded skies; his favorite tone became known as "Beltran Blue."

Beltran-Masses died in 1949 in Barcelona, Spain, and today he is considered a Spanish painter.  His paintings are held by several museums, including the Musée du Jeu de Paume in Paris.


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