PRIOR TO their final meeting before the summer break a group of 32 Marina Alta Fine Arts Society (MAFAS) members visited Valencia to learn more about a renowned Valencian family.
Jose Antonio Benlliure Tomas was born in 1832 and lived in a fishing village near Valencia. He was a painter and teacher of painting and encouraged the interest of his six children in the Arts from an early age.
The most well-known of Jose’s six children were Jose Benlliure Gill who was a painter and his brother Mariano best known as a sculptor. Jose’s son Peppino was a painter in his father’s footsteps and showed great promise but died an early death.
In 1957 Jose’s daughter Maria donated their family house to the City Council for a museum dedicated to the work of her father and brother which now celebrates the work of the whole Benlliure family.
The museum comprises the living quarters typical of the mid-19th century, a garden and artist’s studio. Nearby is the Carmen Cultural Centre, former home to the Fine Arts Museum and a childhood haunt of the Benlliures and the Plaza del Carmen which houses a tribute to Mariano Benlliure in the form of a fountain.
A short walk brought the group to the Palau de La Generalitat, the office and headquarters of the Valencia Communidad President. Normally open to the public only during fiestas and public holidays, the group had a guided tour of the building which houses, in addition to a splendid fireplace of Dante’s Inferno by Mariano Benlliure, richly decorated ceilings and priceless works of art.
Finally, the group arrived at the Bellas Artes, the Valencia Fine Arts Museum, for lunch and a look into the Mariano Benlliure gallery, with its sculptures of kings, queens and important members of the city including a very striking statue of Eugenie, Queen Victoria’s granddaughter on a horse and an impressive mausoleum crafted in memory of Valencia’s favourite 18th century writer Blasco Ibanez.
This was the first of many trips to be organised for the MAFAS group.