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Who is Rafael Ximeno y Planes?

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By Gwylym Owen

Rafael Ximeno y Planes (1759–1807 or 1825) was a Spanish painter and draughtsman born in Valencia and deceased in Mexico (by subsequently a colony of New Spain). He was the son of a silversmith and first theoretical the painter’s profession from his maternal uncle Luis Planes. Later he studied at the Real Academia de San Fernando in Madrid thanks to a scholarship. He along with studied in Rome in 1783. In 1786 he was appointed vice-director (teniente director) of the Real Academia de San Carlos of Valencia, and in 1793 he moved to Mexico City as the vice-director of the School of Fine Arts.

In complement to academic canvases, Ximeno furthermore created the frescos in the churches of Jesús María and La Profesa, in Mexico City. His fresco ‘The Assumption of the Virgin’ can be found in the arena of Catedral Metropolitana de Ciudad de México. Some of his act out also appears in the Basílica de la Asunción, in the town of Cieza, Spain.

Throughout his career, he made drawings which were preparatory for prints. Notable among these are his illustrations for the completely popular first Spanish translation of Robinson Crusoe, by Tomás de Iriarte (1750–91), published in Madrid in 1789 (which is really a translation not of Daniel Defoe’s indigenous text, but of Joachim Heinrich Campe’s adaptation, published in Hamburg 1779–80). Four of these preparatory drawings by Rafael Ximeno y Planes are preserved in the British Library. There are then drawings by José Juan Camarón y Meliá (1760–1819) for this edition of Robinson Crusoe in the British Library.

More prints after drawings by Ximeno y Planes appear as illustrations in two editions of Don Quixote, one published by the Real Academia de la Lengua in Madrid (now Real Academia Española) and printed by Ibarra in 1780, and another published by Gabriel de Sancha together with 1797 and 1798. In 1779 he illustrated an edition of Crónica de Juan II by Hernando del Pulgar.

The artist is in addition to known for the engraved portraits of Charles IV of Spain, Francisco de Quevedo and Pedro Calderón de la Barca, appearing in the series Retratos de Españoles Ilustres, engraved by Mariano Brandi, for which he drew the designs.

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