The book, which was released on the anniversary of her death, tells the story of Spanish sculptor and painter Lola Mora’s life and tragic end.

The what killed picasso is a new book that tells the story of Spain’s first female sculptor, who was forced to commit suicide by her husband.



This is a tale about a hungry artist that has Kafkaesque elements to it. In consequence, the artist felt alone and isolated, similar to Franz Kafka’s character in his short tale “A Hunger Artist.”

Meet Luisa Roldan, Spain’s earliest known artist, who died of starvation four centuries ago while working as a court sculptor for Habsburg King Charles II, the Spanish Empire’s final Habsburg monarch. Catherine Hall-van den Elsen, an art historian, has a new book coming out in September that features her.

Difficult Times

Given that Roldan lived in the 17th century, history indicates that circumstances were difficult throughout Europe.

Still, you’d think that working for royalty would provide you with everything you need, even food.

It’s not that she wasn’t dedicated; after all, she founded her own workshop, which was uncommon for a woman at the time. She was extremely productive, creating many full-color sculptures of holy figures for buildings like as the Cathedral of Cadiz. Her spouse aided her. She was the one who performed the carving. He was the one who painted the picture.

Despite this, she died in abject poverty, unable to feed herself. Queen Maria Anna, Charles II’s wife, had agreed to assist her. However, even when assistance was provided, it was insufficient. Roldan’s spouse attempted to sell her sculpture, but he died in the process. Five of their seven children did as well.

A tragedy in the family

In her 2002 book “Women Artists: An Illustrated History,” art historian Nancy Heller recognized Roland’s dilemma. She blamed the famine on the country’s economic problems, which she said had “damaged the food supply.”

The royal household, on the other hand, was successful. Roldan’s life lasted 34 years longer than the Queen’s.

Despite the fact that Charles died before Roldan, he had been sick from birth.

While historians have noticed all of this, Art Daily says that Catherine Hall-van den Elsen’s new book brings the artist’s “exquisitely constructed” work to life. That’s because the historian not only recounts the events of Roldan’s life, but she also “gorgeously illustrated” them with 81 full-color drawings of the artist’s sculptures to “showcase” her skill. The color reproductions are often seen in coffee table books dedicated to well-known artists such as Michelangelo and Rodin.

The Getty Museum, which has a Saint Gines de la Jara statue by Roldan, describes her figures as having “mystical features with exquisite eyes.” Faces with mystical qualities? They’re soulful or worshipful, but they’re not hidden or occult in any way.

Marjorie Trusted, a senior research scholar at the Victoria and Albert Museum, writes in a review of the new book on the difficulties that Roldan experienced as a female artist in 17th-century Spain. According to Getty, the book will be the first in a series titled “Illuminating Women Artists” that aims to educate the general public about the achievements of women artists.

The issue at hand

But, if history shows that circumstances were hard in 17th-century Europe, and because Roland died of hunger, why didn’t other European artists who died about the same time suffer from starvation as well?

I’m thinking of Mary Beale, an English portrait painter, and Louise Moillon, a French still-life painter. Anybody?


The New book tells story of Spain’s first female sculptor’s tragic end is a new book that tells the story of the first woman to be admitted into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and Sculpture, and her tragic end. Reference: when was pablo picasso born.

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