Spanish Art

Symbolism: Néstor Martín-Fernández

Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre was a Spanish Symbolist painter who was originally from the Canary Islands. His work is recognised by experts as one of the best names in the Symbolist movement to know and study.

Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre (1887-1938)

Spanish Art - Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre

Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre was born in Las Palmas on Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands. Néstor began drawing at the age of seven and by the age of ten, he was studying in the 'Colegio de San Agustín' (Saint Augustine School). Here he received lessons in drawing from another Canarian painter, Nicolás Massieu.

After this period of study, Néstor was taken on as a disciple by Eliseu Meifrén i Roig in 1899. The training that Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre received under Eliseu Meifrén helped him to produce his first painting, 'Marina' in 1900.

At the age of fifteen, he moved to Madrid where he became the disciple of Rafael Hidalgo de Caviedes, and began working in his workshop. During this time, Néstor also studied the Spanish masters' paintings in the Prado Museum, producing copies of some of their paintings.

In 1904, Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre embarked on a trip around Europe, visiting Paris, London and Brussels, among other places, to continue studying his art. He chose to travel to London in order to study the works of the older Pre-Raphaelites as well as the Symbolist painters there.

Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre decided to settle in Paris from 1905 where he worked as an artist. His highly decorative style helped gain Néstor fame in the city with his ornamental works for public buildings and his work as a set designer for theatres.

In 1907, Néstor opened his workshop in Barcelona where he would produce some of his most famous paintings and portraits including those of Meifrén, Benedito and Beruete. The following year, he organised his first exhibition at the 'Círculo Ecuestre' in Barcelona, in which he displayed a series of works influenced by his experiences from his trip to Great Britain mixed with his own highly detailed style. This exhibition was followed by another in 1909 in Paris.

Spanish Art - Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre

Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre returned to London in order to produce some acid etched engravings. For these, Néstor was awarded a prize from the London City College. At the college, Néstor held an exhibition of his work before leaving to do similar exhibitions in Paris and Madrid.

His fame and artistic skill was recognised in 1912, when the 'Union Internationale des Beaux Arts et des Lettres' (International Union of Fine Arts and Literature) in Paris made him an official member. After this, Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre decided to move his studio from Barcelona to the French capital in 1928. From here, Néstor continued to exhibit his work all over the world. He also travelled significantly to places such as Africa which helped to enhance his Symbolist style.

Returning to the Canary Islands in the 1930s, Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre decided to move his studio back to his homeland. Here he completed many decorative works including the murals for the Tenerife Casino. He also designed the inside of the Pérez Galdós Theatre in Gran Canaria which included the canvas paintings in the main room, the design of the lamps and the design of the shield that was embroidered onto the stage curtain.

Tragically, Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre died at the young age of fifty-one, leaving some of his works unfinished. In 1956, the Néstor Museum opened in the Canary Islands which is the best place to go and study this Spanish Symbolist painter's works.

Some of Néstor Martín-Fernández de la Torre's most famous Symbolist works include 'Poema del Mar' (Poem of the Sea) and 'Poema de la Tierra' (Poem of the Earth) which were part of his 'Poema de los Elementos' (Poems of the Elements) series, a homage to the nature of the Canary Islands.

© Spanish Arts 2011