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Sale 1347 Lot 15

Julio De Diego
(Illinois, New York, California / Spain, 1900 - 1979)
Woman Reading a Book, 1935
oil on board in original frame
signed and dated '35 lower left.

From the personal collection of Chicago/Santa Fe artist Ramon Shiva (American; 1893-1963).

Julio De Diego was born on May 9, 1900 in Madrid, Spain. When he was a boy of fifteen in Madrid, he already knew he wanted to be an artist, but his father, a wholesale and retail merchant, objected. Father insisted that Julio and Julio's brother should aim for business success. When his father destroyed all his drawings, Julio left the house for good, and true to the romantic pattern of art biographies, became a successful painter. His brother inherited the business, gambled it away and killed himself.

Before De Diego came to the United States at the age of twenty-four, he had been an apprentice in a scene-painting studio for Madrid theatres and was an extra in the Ballet Russe's performance of "Petrouchka" with the great Nijinsky. For two years he was with the Spanish army, and fought six months in the North African Riff wars. In 1926 he arrived in Chicago where he designed magazine covers, did fashion illustrations and got a commission to decorate two chapels in St. Gregory's Church. He also designed a laundry bag for the Hotel Sherman that led to a considerable increase in outgoing wash.

He painted street scenes, landscapes and murals for the WPA. He was a gaunt, intense man, who was at one time married to Gypsy Rose Lee. As an artist, he fits into no easy pigeonhole. He was far from what is commonly considered to be the mainstream of modern art. He was a traditionalist at heart, but his fame came from his paintings of the Spanish Armada. In his New York studio, de Diego spent his spare time cooking aromatic Spanish dishes and reading works of Spanish philosophers and poets. He smoked cigarettes constantly and dressed flamboyantly, affecting cerise mufflers and jangling bracelets.


Compiled and submitted August 2004 by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.
34 1/2' H x 24' W
Estimate $4,000-6,000


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