(born Rome, 24 June 1841;
died Versailles, 15 Sept 1920).
Son of Federico de Madrazo y Küntz. Because of his ability and training with his father, Federico, in the Real Academia de S Fernando in Madrid and with Léon Cogniet in Paris, he seemed destined to continue the family tradition of academic painting. However, due to the influence of the Belgian Alfred Stevens, of his brother-in-law, Mariano José Bernardo Fortuny y Marsal, and the Parisian environment, Madrazo y Garreta exchanged dry historical painting (e.g. Arrival in Spain of the Body of the Apostle St James, 1858, and Ataulfo, 1860) for the preciousness of the tableautin, the small, intimate genre painting. Madrazo y Garreta lived in Paris and New York and became so remote from Spanish artistic life that he and Fortuny y Marsal were the only Spanish artists not to participate in any national exhibition, and because of this the Spanish state never directly acquired their paintings. In 1882, with Giuseppe De Nittis, Stevens and the gallery owner Georges Petit, Madrazo y Garreta co-founded the Exposition Internationale de Peinture, designed to promote foreign artists in Paris.
Madrazo Garreta’s most characteristic paintings are the female portrait and the witty and elegant genre painting, with soft, delicate tones and suggestive poses. The influence of the Rococo and of Japanese art is reflected in Madrazo y Garreta painting, which expresses an exquisite aristocratic or bourgeois ideal, the illusion of a refined, sensual and superficial life. Consequently, Madrazo y Garreta paintings are also described as representing the ‘Parisian seraglio’. American collectors paid high prices for Madrazo y Garreta paintings, for example Alexander Turney Stewart bought Lady with a Parrot; Carnival Festival (1878) was purchased by L. Wolfe; and Girls at the Window (1875) was bought by J. W. Vanderbilt, the last two now being in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. His portrait paintings were better received in Spain (e.g. the Duquesa de Alba, 1881; Madrid, Pal. Liria, Col. Casa Alba), although because of collectors such as Ramón de Errazu (d 1909), the Museo del Prado has a good number of Madrazo y Garreta paintings (e.g. After the Bath).