Awards & Collections
1888 - Exposición Universal de Barcelona. Honourable mention
1891 - Exposición General de Bellas Artes, Barcelona. Honourable mention
1904 - Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes, Madrid. Honourable mention
1918 - Exposición de Arte de Barcelona
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña, Barcelona
Museo de Arte de Gerona, Girona
Museo de Montserrat
Biblioteca Museo Víctor Balaguer, Vilanova i la Geltrú
Fundación Francisco Godia, Barcelona
Museo de Arte de Sabadell
Banco Santander Collection
Colección Banco Sabadell
Colección Caixa Catalunya
Francesc Gimeno was born in Tortosa, in the south of Catalonia, in 1858. From a humble family of farmers, at a very young age he discovered the art of drawing thanks to his neighbour Francesc Tió, who was a lithographer. At the age of fourteen, he began working in the studios of Manuel Marqués, the most prestigious decorative painter in the city. Moving to Barcelona in the early 1980s, he continued to work as a wall painter in Joan Parera’s studio, but in his free time he devoted himself to easel painting. In the city of Barcelona, he became friends with the artists Eliseu Meifrén, Josep Lluís Pellicer and Ramiro Lorenzale. His youthful works are characterized by a preference for landscape, in particular coastal ones, and are charged with sweet lyricism.
In 1884, Gimeno went to Madrid to study at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes (High School of Fine Art) with Carlos de Haes, the professor of landscape painting, and accompanied him on excursions to paint from nature. The romantic and idealised realism of his canvases show the influence of his teacher. The painter also took advantage of his sojourn in Madrid to assiduously visit the Museo del Prado (Prado Museum), where he copied from the masters. He particularly admired Velázquez, Ribera, and Murillo.
He returned to Catalonia three years later. With Modest Urgell, he travelled to Torroella de Montgrí and established a patronship, albeit modest, with Ramon Call. In 1888 he married Caterina Massaguer. According to his biographers, it is from this moment that the artist’s personality changed. It was the beginning of a phase of inner tumult that would affect him for the rest of his life, leading him to refuse the protection of different benefactors and, finally, to self-marginalisation.
Recently married, Gimeno settled in Barcelona, where he lived in constant economic precariousness with a single decorator’s salary, robbing hours from sleep in order to paint. However, the decade of the 1890-1900s is considered his 'euphoric era': his painting reached full maturity with a plastic language and expressive realism that revealed Velázquez's influence. During these years, the artist continued to dedicate himself to painting the landscapes of the Costa Brava and all of Torroella, making his canvases reflect his interpretation of a universally beautiful and perfect nature, thus revealing his pantheistic vision of the world. He also worked on indoor scenes, especially portraits and self-portraits, the other genres preferred by the artist.
The spirituality and austerity of his character led to Gimeno not being adequately appreciated by the public in Barcelona at the time, who were unable to understand his harsh works, their proletarian themes, and the strong brushstrokes, considered devoid of sensitivity and refinement. Despite lacking the support of the multitudes, Gimeno had a circle of admirers who, at the initiative of the painter Ignasi Mallol, organized his first solo exhibition at the Sala Dalmau in Barcelona in 1915. This retrospective, of a vindicative nature, conferred recognition for the first time on Gimeno’s artistic work and obtained a discreet critical success. It was also an opportunity to meet with his childhood friend, Dr. Francesc Bedós, who from then on contributed financially to facilitate the artist's pictorial campaigns in Sabadell, Sóller (Mallorca, 1916), Girona, Begur and Tarragona.
Until that time disconnected from the art market, Gimeno began presenting his work in galleries and official exhibitions. He participated in the Salon d’Automne (Autumn Salon) of 1920 and in 1921, at the Exposició d’Art Catala (Exhibition of Catalan Art) in Lisbon, and at the Real Academia de Sabadell (Royal Academy of Sabadell). Further, the Sala Parés, in 1925, organized a tribute exhibition, but his recognition only culminated after his death in 1927.