Teodoro Delgado, illustrator for the touristic Spain of the 40s




The promotion of the tourist possibilities of our country has been one of the constants in Spanish institutional advertising since more than a century ago, in times of Alfonso XIII, the Regia Tourism Commission was established. Its witness was assumed in 1928 by a National Board, an organization that promoted the construction of inns in unique places in our geography, such as the Sierra de Gredos, and roadside shelters such as the one in Manzanares, inaugurated in 1931.

For its dissemination work, the Board, whose efforts were continued by the Second Republic, published numerous books and posters disseminating the best of our heritage, with the collaboration of prominent visual artists and photographers. One of these books, published in 1930, was dedicated to the city of Toledo, being illustrated with images of Rodríguez, Aldus, Loty, Ramos Y Moreno.

The Civil War had not yet concluded, when the Francoist side opted for the recovery of visitors to the territories controlled by their troops, offering the so-called “War Routes through Spain”, visiting places such as San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Gijón or Oviedo, where you could still see the traces of the war “epic” that was being fought in our country. Within this strategy, a propaganda poster was also published showing the ruins of the Alcázar

During the 1940s, and through the General Directorate of Tourism, whose head was the lawyer and journalist Luís Antonio Bolín y Bidwell, the Regime did not haggle efforts to advertise tourism to Spain, with the dual purpose of obtaining the arrival of foreign currency to the meager national coffers and offer the world a different image from that of a country destroyed by war and politically aligned with fascism. One of the pillars of this strategy was the publication of numerous posters, promoting attractions such as snow sports, beaches, mountaineering, folklore and popular architecture. Renowned illustrators such as Josep Morell, Ricardo Summers Isern («Serny») o el toledanor Teodoro Delgado.

Teodoro Delgado López had born in Campillo de la Jara in 1907. When they were eleven years old, their family moved to Madrid, where soon after their mother, Andrea, died, leaving her widower, José, in charge of six children. Teodoro began working as bellboys at the “El oro del Rhin” brewery, which opened its doors in the popular Plaza de Santa Ana, where, according to his own statements, he filled his nightstands by scribbling “monkeys.”

The place, in the heart of bohemian Madrid, near the Ateneo and the Spanish Theater, was frequented by many artists and writers. One of those clients was the cartoonist Germán Pérez Durías, who took the young Teodoro as his assistant, giving him the opportunity to develop his love for the plastic arts that he practiced in a self-taught way in the Casón del Buen RetiroAt the same time, he sent comics to some publications, such as the satirical magazine “La Risa.”

He was barely twenty years old when he was already immersed in the world of advertising illustration, being recognized and awarded in competitions organized by such prominent Madrid entities as the Circle of Fine Arts, selecting his works to announce his renowned masked balls. The obligation to fulfill his military service led him to Barcelona and then, eager to see the world, he was in Paris, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina. On his return, Teodoro Delgado He already had a recognized prestige that opened the doors of «Blanco y Negro» and «ABC» to join their excellent list of illustrators. In 1929, together with Bengoa and Cristino Soravilla, he had created “Jeromín”, a weekly magazine for children that two years later was acquired by Editorial Católica. By then his posters announcing dances, bullfights and festivities were already known and celebrated.

The echo of his successes also reached Toledo lands. In February 1934, in the pages of “El Castellano” it was noted that after the “ice of pain, work and sacrifice”, Teodoro he was savoring the “honeys of triumph.” The following month, in the halls of the Casino de Artistas e Industriales, an exhibition of his oil paintings, posters and illuminated drawings was shown. His board of directors commissioned him to announce the festival that would be held on Saint Joseph’s Day on the occasion of the sixty-third anniversary of the founding of the entity.

The poster made represented a couple of dancers, saying in “El Castellano” that they had “the lilting eurythmy of a Bécquer rhyme”, evoking the men who one fine day decided to create a common home, the Casino, to congregate, get to know each other , help each other and be useful to the city. On the occasion of this exhibition, the journalist Tomás Rodríguez, “Teerre” interviewed him for the aforementioned newspaper, recalling his artistic beginnings and expressing his desire to show his works in the city again, so that his followers from Toledo were the ones who would censor him “if I get stuck or get upset” or applaud “if I advance and triumph”, considering such attitudes as “the most powerful encouragement for my work.”

As with all the professional groups in our country, the Civil War was a tear in the excellent group of illustrators who enriched the journalistic and publishing scene in Spain. Some, like Renau, Bartolozzi, Castelao or Bartolí, aligned themselves with the Republic, while figures such as Sáenz de Tejada, Jesús Olasagasti o Teodoro Delgado they placed themselves on the side of the rebels. They all put their talent at the service of the cause they defended, creating hundreds of posters that constitute one of the most important artistic and documentary heritages in our recent history.

After Franco’s victory, Delgado She was among the list of assiduous cartoonists in the publications encouraged by the Falange, such as “Vértice”, “Flechas y Pelayos” or “Y”, presented as a magazine of the national unionist woman. He also made covers for writers such as José María Pemán and resumed his collaborations with “ABC”, “Blanco y Negro” and other headers.

Between 1941 and 1945, together with other prominent illustrators, he participated in the edition of promotional posters published by the Propaganda Section of the Directorate General of Tourism, signing some works that, by their own right, appear in the anthology of Spanish advertising graphics, like those dedicated to Malaga and Andalusian beaches. Seen eighty years later, these posters retain special appeal and “modernity”, being almost impossible to imagine that they were inviting you to enjoy a country devastated by the postwar period, economically drowned by international isolation and subjected to a fierce dictatorship. Another of his most popular works at the time was the book “Costumes of Spain” with texts by the Marquis de Lozoya.

During the decade of the fifties, Delgado was opting more for painting and illustration of great literary works such as “Don Quixote”, “Cándido” by Voltaire, “David Coperfield” by Dickens, “Ana Karenina” by Tolstoy, “The Belly of Paris” by Zola or a Bible edited by EDAF. His exhibitions were highly successful with the public and critics. Despite this, he did not abandon his collaborations with the publications of “Prensa Española”, the illustrations made during the trial of the renowned “crime of Jarabo” in 1959 being highly celebrated.

Teodoro Delgador passed away in June 1975 at the age of sixty-eight. At the time of his death, the pages of this newspaper meant that his name was “synonymous with professional honesty and refined art.” In his hometown, Campillo de la Jara, a street bears his name. And in 2010, Carlos Boves, heteronym of his son Carlos, published the book “Teodoro Delgado: forging of pencil and paper.” Part of his graphic work is kept at the ABC Museum of Drawing and Illustration in Madrid.

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