The first occasion on which Sert’s working method was the subject of analysis was the retrospective exhibition devoted to his work held in Madrid in 1987. The exhibition included a series of photographs taken in his studio, presumably by Sert himself, which revealed what is possibly the most fascinating aspect of his creative activities. In order to construct his compositions Sert evolved a sophisticated method that allowed him to envisage large and complex compositions with numerous figures and to advance rapidly with the project in hand. For this reason he employed a small group of assistants, each one entrusted with a particular task.

Sert’s method involved the construction of small-scale preliminary models of his compositions, initially using Nativity figures and later wooden mannequins, which he positioned in these preliminary models. He also added numerous objects and decorative accessories and often dressed the figures. Sert “played” with these dolls until he had achieved the desired poses then photographed the complete model with its figures in order to study the lighting. The photograph, or a detail of it, would be squared-up and used as the basis for translating the idea on to the canvas. Many of these photographs have survived, comprising a large although not complete collection but one that offers sufficient information to know that Sert had introduced this working method into his studio by the time he created Camacho’s Wedding.


  • Title: Trapeze Artists
  • Date Created: 1931
  • Place Part Of: Spain
  • Physical Dimensions: w2500 x h4200 mm (Complete)
  • Painter: Josep Maria Sert
  • Exhibition: Madrid, Spain
  • Credit Line: This panel is from the series Camacho’s Wedding, painted by Sert for one of the gala dining rooms in the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Fundación Banco Santander, www.fundacionbancosantander.com
  • External Link: Fundación Banco Santander
  • Medium: Black and gold grisaille on canvas panel

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