Gosé, Xavier


Xavier Gosé

Alcala de Henares, Madrid, 1876

Lerida, 1915


Francesc Xavier Gosé was born in Madrid, but for family reasons he spent his childhood and youth in Barcelona. He began his studies at the School of Arts and Crafts of Barcelona, and years later continued his training at the La Llotja School of Fine Arts. His main teacher was the painter and illustrator José Luis Pellicer, thanks to whom he left academic rigor behind and embraced the narrative realism of turn-of-the-century Catalonia, interpreting street scenes and varied landscapes. 

He started working as an illustrator from the young age of 19, contributing to some of the most prestigious Catalan publications of the time such as L’Esquella de la Torratxa, Barcelona Cómica, La Saeta and El Gato Negro. His work Tirant l’Art was used for the cover of issue number six of the Quatre Gats magazine, also the name of the Barcelona tavern that was a gathering point for artists and intellectuals, and also bore witness to his first solo exhibition in 1899 which was acclaimed by the critics and general public alike. 

The following year he moved to Paris, where a few months later he received his first commission for the French satirical press, a drawing that ended up on the cover of Cocorico magazine. His graphic work hugely successful, supported by regular contributions to the Le Rire gazette and crowned by contributions to the Spanish magazines Hispania, Ilustració Levantina and Catalunya Artística. His folkloric ‘Spanified’ illustrations dated from this period, some of them published in the Gazette du Bon Ton. These prints popularized an archetype of sophisticated, modern elegance, a theme very much in vogue in fin-de-siècle Paris. His style had changed; impressed by Daumier’s engravings and Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters, his work was now characterized by a defined linear structure and splashes of luminous color. 

The commissions continued to roll in, and his work appeared constantly in L’Assiette au Beurre, La Contemporaine, Le Frou-Frou, La Vie Illustrée and, above all, in Sans-Gène. There were also several exhibitions of his work both in and outside the French capital. He participated in the Paris Autumn Salon, along with Anglada, Casas, Gili i Roig, Maillol and Rusiñol, among others, and also exhibited at Sala Parés in Barcelona. 

Catalan publications such as La Ilustració Catalana, Pèl & Ploma and La Veu de Catalunya hailed his celebrated status and published his graphic work, leading many other publications such as Joventut y Forma to seek his collaboration. He was also published in the most prestigious German magazines of the time: Simplicissimus and Jugend y Ulk, and produced sets and costumes for various plays. 

In 1914, concerned about the outbreak of the Great War and sick with tuberculosis, he moved back to Spain, settling in Lleida, where he died in 1915. 

Isabel Menéndez