(Entrambasmestas, Cantabria, 1841- Ontaneda, Cantabria, 1929)
From humble origins, the Cantabrian Agustín Riancho y Gómez Porras was first trained in Santander under the aegis of the printer José María Martínez and the lithographer Víctor Ferré. Thanks to their help, especially the former, who promoted a popular subscription, he was able to further his studies at the San Fernando Fine Arts School in Madrid between 1858 and 1863, where he was a disciple of the landscape artist Carlos de Haes, and between 1863 and 1867 in Antwerp (Belgium) in the atelier of Jean-Pierre François Lamorinière. After that, he moved to Brussels, where he joined the Societé Libre des Beaux Arts, the force behind the magazine L’Art libre and proponents of realism as opposed to academicism. From there he travelled to Paris and through northern France, where he saw the works of Corot, Courbet and the landscape artists from the Barbizon School firsthand. He returned to Spain in 1844, first to Cantabria and in 1894 to Valladolid, where he lived until 1899 and participated actively in the local art scene. At that time, he went back to his homeland and moved into his brother’s house. He remained there until the end of his days, relegated to oblivion until he was revived after two individual exhibitions held in Santander in 1922 and 1923.
An outstanding landscape artist, his painting is influenced by the Barbizon School, which he became familiar with on his frequent journeys to northern France, and through Lamorinière himself, especially during his time in Belgium. The use of black is quite characteristic of his paintings, and at times he even blended it with blacking and tar to get better texture and expressiveness, in contrast with bright, luminous yellows and greens, especially in his later years. Over time, his landscapes became freer and more loosely sketched, and his gradual mastery over the spatula led him to work on his paintings through a use of smears of colour somehow reminiscent of expressionistic abstraction.