Maria Ariza y Delance (1880-1959)

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One of the few female painters of the Cuban pre-Vanguard era was Maria Ariza y Delance. Her paintings are reminiscent of European styling, and rarely ever touch on the deeply “Cuban” themes of many of her contemporaries. However, her pupils and fellow artists and critics hailed her as a master of landscaping and figure painting, and figure painting.

Ariza was born in Havana, and was home schooled most of her life. Her father was a prominent Havana architect. In 1907, in her late twenties, she traveled to Europe to study abroad and take painting lessons. There she stayed for 18 years, living in France, Spain, Italy and Belgium. She studied art at the Julien Academy in Paris during her stay, where she held an apprenticeship in the Fine Arts.

Landscape painting seemed to be Ariza’s forte, and such accomplished composition as “El Laguito” and “Patio” stand out and show her full grasp of detailing and use of light and dark.


El Laguito



While in Madrid, Ariza painted her highly acclaimed figure study painting “Useless Advices” which was later awarded a Figure and Composition prize from the National Academy of Arts in Havana. 


Useless Advice


Upon her return to Cuba in 1926, Ariza began working at the San Alejandro School as a professor of Art History. She also served as the Secretary of the school under the direction of Armando Menocal, another famous Cuban painter and teacher.

During her lifetime, she was awarded many prizes and given much recognition for her artistic achievements. Today, her work is housed all over Cuba, and certainly in the European countries she resided in during the 1920s. Could there be a missing Ariza masterpiece in a Spanish villa or French farmhouse? The possibilities seem to be endless. Currently, her name is broadly unknown outside of Cuban art circles, but the artistic value of her work remains.  If you believe you have a work by Ariza, contact us.