Daniel Urrabieta Vierge was born in Madrid, Spain on March 5, 1851. His Father Vincent was also a professional artist and he encouraged Daniel to draw from the time he was three. Vierge was rarely without his drawing tools after that age. At thirteen he was entered into the Academy in Madrid and studied under Francisco Pradilla y Ortiz, Federico Madrazo and José Villegas Cordero. Vierge received his first assignment when he was sixteen illustrating Madrid la Nuit.
With money from his work he decided to move to Paris to study painting but the outbreak of the Franco Prussian War kept him from entering the academies there. Instead he chronicled the war and sold the illustrations to Le Monde Illustre and other periodicals. By the age of 21 he was a highly sought after illustrator of books and magazines.
Vierge is considered the father of modern illustration. He worked to incorporate his illustrations into the text and he helped develop a process to copy the art directly to a plate for printing avoiding the translation of a wood engraver. This produced a line quality unique in the publishing world a the time. Vierge worked in Guache, pen and pencil. His ink work was done with a glass pen on Bristol Board. His working method was to always sketch from life, quick vignettes of everything around him. These sketchbook illustrations would be used as the basis for his professional work. He rarely used models for assignments having so much information collected over the years. His facile handling and expressive, fliud line work kept him one of the most sought after illustrators of his day.
His largest assignment was Michelet’s History of France containing 1000 drawings in 26 volumes. Vierges best known work was to be Pablo De Segovia. Vierge would create 110 illustrations for the book. After completing the first 90 illustrations he had a stroke which left him paralyzed on the right side of his body, unable to draw and with short term memory loss; he was 30 years old.
Vierge spent almost ten years retraining his left hand to draw as well as he could with his right. The second edition of Pablo De Segovia had all 110 illustrations; the last twenty finished by Vierge left handed; they are indistinguishable from his earlier work. He had to have someone repeat the passages to him over and over again while he drew them because of his memory loss which eventually was cured.
In 1889 he was awarded a gold Medal at the Paris Exhibition for his work on Pablo De Segovia. His last work was the four volume set of Don Quixote, creating 75 illustrations for Cervantes Classic. Vierge never regained the use of his right hand. Daniel Vierge died at Boulogne-sur-Seine in May 1904 at the age of 53.
Google books has free complete copies of some of the books illustrated by Vierge including On the Trail of Don Quixote
and Don Quixote
. The books are in .pdf format complete with all of the illustration albeit in slightly fuzzy scans.
Daniel Urrabieta Vierge in the collection of the Hispanic Society of America
Elizabeth du Gué Trapier
New York, 1936
Pablo De Segovia the Spanish Sharper
Fransico De Quevedo
Work is the greatest fun in the whole world it is the only fun I want to have.