Sometimes less is more and that certainly is the case for this spare and elegant drawing by Spanish Art Deco artist Rafael de Penagos. Penagos was born in Madrid in April 1889 and started Art School at the age of eleven.
In 1913 he won a scholarship to study in Paris and London. On his return to Spain in 1914, at the outbreak of the Great War, he started to produce posters and illustrations for magazines such as La Esfera (The Sphere) and Blanco y Nero (Black and White).
He produced many illustrations of women and even gave his name in Spain to the mujer Penagos an archetype of the skinny, cropped-haired, flapper of the twenties; as evocative of their era as the Gibson Girl was a few decades earlier.
He certainly liked his women in stockings and they featured in many of his illustrations and book covers. He also produced film posters.
He signed some of his illustrations "Zala" rather than "Penagos"; from his last name Zalabardo. In 1927, just a few years after many of these illustrations were produced, he won the gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition of decorative arts.
He produced posters for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War but left Franco's Spain to live in Argentina and Chile for a number of years.
He returned to Spain in 1953 but died of a stroke shortly afterwards.
Last year we were asked, if we could go back in time to live somewhere permanently, when that would be. We answered London in the nineteen twenties, provided we were earning the same as now of course! It would certainly have been worth driving down to Madrid to experience some of these enticing Spanish flappers!
Rafael de Penagos Zalabardo (1889-1953)