Mariano Benlliure, the artist who sculpted before speaking


Painters’ son and brother

Born in Valencia in 1862, the internationally renowned artist Mariano Benlliure was passionate about sculpture since childhood

Mariano Benlliure Gil was born in Valencia in 1862, into the heart of an artists’ family. His father, Juan Antonio Benlliure Tomas, who did not want to be a sailor like his predecessors, was a painter decorator; and his brothers Blas, José and Juan Antonio would become prestigious painters. Mariano, on the other hand, opted for sculpture since he was a young child, even before he started to speak at the late age of seven. Sculpture would be his way of expression, his passion. Already in 1868, he presented one of his works to an exhibition organised by The Society of Friends of the Country, in Valencia.

In 1881, before turning 20, Benlliure left for Rome where he opened a studio that he maintained for almost two decades. There in contact with the Crescenzi house, he would learn to master the process of lost wax casting, that would later allow him to take maximum advantage of the different materials on its various phases: the clay model, its casting in plaster, wax and finally, bronze. During the 80’s of the nineteenth century he would be garlanded in Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Munich and Vienna.

Specifically, in 1887, he received the first medal at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Madrid, with the Statue of the painter Jose Ribera for his monument in Valencia, which can be visited at Poeta Llorente Square.

Other works of Benlliure not to be missed during a stay in this city are: the Monument to the Marquis of Campo, in Cánovas del Castillo Square and the sculptures at the Benlliure House-Museum (Casa Museo). This was the family home of his brother Jose Benlliure Gil, which also houses paintings by José himself, his son José Benlliure Ortiz (Peppino) and other Valencian artists of the time such as the great Joaquin Sorolla, an intimate friend of Mariano Benlliure.

The Valencian sculptor died in Madrid in 1947, but his remains were transferred to the cemetery of Cabañal, in his native and beloved Valencia, where he was buried with full honors.

Itinerary: from Casa-Museo Benlliure (Blanquerías Street, 23) up to Cánovas Square, passing through Poeta Llorente Square; it takes about 20 minutes, walking along the River Turia’s south bank. And if you had more time or were in the vicinity, come to see the Monument to Sorolla (in Armada Española Square, near the port) and the Monument to Cervantes (in Guillem de Castro’s street gardens) or enjoy the Valencian coat of arms and the allegorical figures (Administration, Justice, Arts and Letters) on the Town Hall’s facade. (+09)