L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, January 25, 2019

Raquel Meller Performing "El Relicario" - a portrait by Carlos Vázquez Úbeda, circa 1920

Raquel Meller (born Francisca Romana Marqués López; 9 March 1888, Tarazona – 26 July 1962, Barcelona), Spanish singer and actress. She was an international star in the 1920s and 1930s, appearing in several films and touring Europe and the Americas. She was twice booked to perform in the United States, but canceled both appearances. And even when Charlie Chaplin asked her in 1926 to appear in one of his films, she demurred. During the Spanish Civil War, she lived in France and then moved to Argentina. She returned to Spain at the end of the Thirties but soon faded from public view. Interest in her was rekindled some twenty years later when singer and actress Sara Montiel, appeared in two films and sang songs popularized by Meller. And when she died a few years later, at the age of seventy-four, it was reported that one hundred thousand people witnessed her funeral procession.

El Relicario is a pasodoble written by the popular composer José Padilla in 1914. At first unsuccessful, it was soon taken over by Meller who made an international hit of the song. She recorded it several times and performed it all over the world; in Paris the song was so successful that 110,000 copies of the edition were sold and spawned a fashion for canes, hats, handkerchiefs, gloves, etc., inspired by El Relicario. It was later recorded by countless singers, and was even used as the theme for Eisenhower's election campaign in 1952.


Carlos Vázquez Úbeda (31 December 1869, Ciudad Real  - 31 August 1944, Barcelona), Spanish painter and illustrator. Professionally successful, his work consisted mainly of portraits, genre scenes, and paintings of "Spanish beauties." Forced to flee Spain during the Civil War, Raquel Meller invited him and his wife and daughter to live at a residence of hers in Nice. In 1938 he returned to Spain where he died six years later at the age of seventy-four.

The model and the artist at work on the portrait.

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