Posted 3 years ago
Once more I'm sharing a book. Not long ago Carlos brought it from his old studio and showed it to me. I really was surprised at both the amazing imagination and technique of the man who illustrated its cover: Rafael Romero Calvet, a man that's virtually forgotten nowadays.
Amongst the very few data one can find online about him, I can tell he was born in Marbella in 1884 (a time when the village was known for its iron industry and the terms tourism and international jet-set were unknown to ts inhabitants) and died, probably at a mental institution, at the age of 37, in 1925. Thanks to a Spanish modern illustrator I've been able to read a review of an art exhibition of his work held at the Madrid Atheneum by Manuel Abril -one of the best writers of the time. I will talk about him in a future post- where he praises his huge imagination. Trying to find out more about that exhibition I've run into a biografy of Ramón Gómez de la Serna (one of the most famous Spanish writers from the first third of the 20th Century), for whom Romero Calvet made in 1919 the cover illustration for one of his most famous books, “Pombo” (a café where a well known literary salon created in 1915 was held). In the list of the founding intellectuals and artists they name Rafael Romero Calvet and call him “the New Dürer”, no doubt inspired by his impressing work (somewhere else I've read he was called "The Other Dürer”). On the other hand, trying to find data about is death, there is a mention to him at the Blanco y Negro magazine in one of their january 1933 issues, when talking about one of his teachers they talk about him “Romero Calvet, who died when he was starting to be famous for his strange and original work”). The mention of his dying mad is mentioned everywhere. There is a link to a Marbella newspaper's archives, but sadly as it has ceased to exist, the website isn't available anymore.
I've also found refferences to at least one short story written by Romero Calvet, in which “he inmates of an asylum flock to see the figure of a beautiful woman in the eyes of a man who's obsessed by her”...
We've been able to find several short novels he made illustrations for. Also some children tales, and have made our minds up about collecting some of his best and most imaginative work.
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The book was printed at the same workshop that printed the Eduardo Rosales book I posted about several montsh ago ( http://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/129151-art-books-collection-unknown-designer?in=collection-3342 ), and shows a good quality printwork.
Appart from the illustration, something that caught my attention at once was that Baudalaire's first name was translated into Spanish. Nowadays that's unthinkable -it's only done with the names of members of foreign royal families-. I always believed this name translating was made only under Franco's dictatorship (1939-1975), but I see now that it's a much older issue. Thank god we are not doing it anymore, although our pronuntiation of foreign names is still pretty awful).