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 Jose Segrelles  (1885 - 1969)

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Lived/Active: Spain/England      Known for: abstract watercolor illustration

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Ad Code: 3
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Annabelle Lee * Annie Laurie * Owl * Polar Bear * Penguin (5)
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

I don't know much about Jose Segrelles Albert, but I know what I like. I first encountered his work in three issues of Redbook Magazine from 1930.  He provided a watercolor illustration for a different poem at the beginning of each issue. I saw three images and I was hooked.

I didn't know where he came from or who he was, but I knew I was in the presence of genius. The blurb under "Metropolis" credited him as "one of the most vital and sensitive of the artists of Spain," so I at least had that much information.  How to find more? I looked.  I found a few more of his images in old issues of The Illustrated London News, but for decades I had to be satisfied with less than a dozen examples of his work.  Discussions with other collectors and artists who knew of Segrelles often mentioned a "BOOK" about him available in Spain.  I got an address from somebody and wrote away.  No reply. More rumors, more oohs and ahhs over the phone during conversations in which his name came up, more hungering for MORE. Well, I'm here to tell you that my prayers were finally answered when Bud Plant Comic Art managed to offer copies for sale back in 1998 and I bought one.

First off, it's big: 11 3/8" x 13 3/8" and 188 pages, with 194 illustrations, mostly in color. Second, it covers his entire career (though the text is in Spanish). Thirdly: he illustrated a wide range of subject matter ranging from portraits to religious images to fairy tales to science fiction to classics - so the mix of images and subject matter is quite varied. At right is an eerie interpretation of the Martians from War of the Worlds. (At left is a scene from El Cid done in oil.)

A watercolor from 1927 illustrating Beethoven's "Apasionata":  In it you see a nebular cloud in the shape of Ludwig as it kisses another (female) galaxy.  Not only is the execution superb, but the concept is different and exciting.  The Martians above are also quite unique and original in design and execution.  Both are watercolors. The book also contains some wonderful images from a two-volume set of Don Quixote.  The one image that will stay with me forever is that of the monsterous windmills as seen through the eyes of the Don as he charges. Amazing!

One of the special Illustrated London News contributions was a suite of images from Wagner's Ring Trilogy.  In the December 1933 Christmas issue, four large pages were devoted to Segrelles' interpretations.  This new book has still more (also attributed to the The Illustrated London News - so perhaps another issue was also devoted to the subject!?) including the amazing and complex "collage" above.  What is even more amazing is that the size given in the book is a mere 26.5 x 44 cm. (about 11"x17").  Other incredible watercolors done for The Illustrated London News were illustrations from Perrault's Fairy Tales, Scenes from Shakespeare, Poe, and The Divine Comedy.  He may have done multiple images per issue (as with the Wagner) or these might have been spread over several issues, or both!?  Either way, the magazine had a large format and good printing, so it's worth searching out. If I get feedback on the actual issue dates, I'll update this page. New information as of June 6, 2001.

The best book about him is the one referred to above.  It's entitled Jose Segrelles Albert 1885-1969 and subtitled Su Vida y Su Obra (His Life and His Work?).  This was published at $350, limited to 3000 copies and contains all but the first three images on this page (and much, much more).

Segrelles Biografia by Vicente Gurrea Crespo has 291 pages, was also published in 1985, has fewer (but mainly different) color illustrations, more photos and more of his line work.  The eerie pile of skulls is reproduced in both of these books.

Unfortunately, that is just about all I know about Jose Segrelles.

This page written & © 1998 by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr., Used with his permission.




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