Born in Madrid in 1963, Maria Torroba studied art in her hometown where she experimented with various techniques and themes. She earned recognition for her talents and was accepted into the prestigious Fine Arts program at the PenÌƒa Academy in Madrid from which she graduated with distinction in 1980.
After studying art for a year in Oxford, England, Torroba became interested in famous portraiture by artists such as Italian Renaissance painter Domenico Ghirlandaio, English Tudor court painter Master John, and the iconic Spanish Baroque artist Diego Velazquez. Inspired by history, Torroba returned to Spain where she continues to work and re-examine historical portraiture. She is particularly interested in fifteenth- through seventeenth-century paintings of royal and aristocratic families, including Giovanna Tornabuoni who patronized arts in Italy during the 1400s, the notorious sixteenth-century English queen Mary Tudor, and Mariana of Austria, wife of King Philip IV and whose portrait by Diego Velazquez in 1653 remains as an emblematic display of the wealth in the Spanish Empire.
In order to imbue her works with a modern appearance, Torroba includes an array of materials in a collaged format. Combining hand-painted imagery with linen, oil, silk, lace, embroidery, advertisements, periodicals, and sometimes even jewels, Torroba’s works come alive and her characters re-emerge as contemporary icons. This reference to modernity is found throughout each image with items such as current newspapers, fashion magazines, and cell phone advertisements. Torroba harmonizes the variegated materials by reusing fabric in several areas of each painting, such as creating a large flowery broach from the same cloth used to embellish the sleeves of the sitter’s dress. The signature abstracted faces of the portraits provide just enough anonymity towards the identity of each figure, thus bridging the gap between historical portraiture and unique modern art.