Awards & Collections
1930 - Exposición Ibero-Americana, Seville. Diploma of Honour
Museo Casa de los Tiros, Granada
Museo de Bellas Artes, Seville
Museo del Ejército de España, Toledo
Museo del Revellín, Ceuta
Centro de Arte Moderno, Tetouan
Mariano Bertuchi was born in 1884 in Granada, where he received his artistic training at the Escuela de Bellas Artes (School of Fine Arts). After the first of numerous trips to North Africa, invited by the interpreter of General O’Donnell, a friend of his father, he moved to Madrid where he entered the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando) at the age of 15, as a student of the Valencian Antonio Muñoz Degrain.
Bertuchi enriched his academic training with repeated trips to Morocco, a region that aroused his interest and where he would end up living most of his life. His early work is characterised by a love of landscape, and the atmosphere of cities such as Tetouan and Chefchaouen: markets, cafes, gardens, streets, scenes of everyday life, ceremonies, and views. He also depicted battle scenes: the Moroccan civil war of 1902-1903, the revolution of 1908 and scenes of the creation of the Spanish Protectorate. To delve into discovering the territory so as to capture its essence, Bertuchi even joined the contingent of journalists accompanying the soldiers of the Protectorate. In this early period his work was imbued with Orientalist romanticism, in the vein of Mariano Fortuny.
In 1911, married and with a son, he moved to San Roque (Cádiz), in the Gibraltar region, repeatedly visiting Malaga and Granada. In 1918 he moved with his family to Ceuta, where he combined his commitment to local politics with an intense artistic production, especially tourist posters and postcards, but also important public works such as the decoration of the City Council building (present-day Assembly Building) and the African Casino of Ceuta, based in the Casa de los Dragones (House of Dragons). He was also involved in the design of the gardens of the Ceuta and Tetouan stations and, later, the gardens of Tetouan’s Plaza de España (currently Hassan II Square).
During the third decade of the century his responsibilities as a civil servant on the African continent grew considerably: he assumed the role of corresponding academic at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando (Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando) in Tetouan and in 1928 he was appointed chief inspector of the Services of Fine Arts and Indigenous Arts of the city. He also directed and promoted various cultural and heritage conservation institutions, such as the Moroccan Museum (now the Ethnological Museum of Tetouan), the Moroccan School of Arts and the Preparatory School of Fine Arts, today the National Institute of Fine Arts.
Bertuchi's involvement in local cultural life also manifested itself in his collaboration with the High Board of Historical and Artistic Monuments, to illustrate a promotional album that aimed to encourage tourism in the Spanish Protectorate of Morocco.
An extraordinarily prolific artist, he was immensely popular during the period in both Morocco and Spain. However, after his death, his figure as a painter was partially overshadowed until the very recent recovery thanks to various exhibitions starting from 1990.