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Execution of Torrijos by Gisbert

Tour about Torrijos, a Spanish liberal hero

Tour about Torrijos, a Spanish liberal hero

Execution of Torrijos by Gisbert ,

Tour about Torrijos, a Spanish liberal hero

Very at night they killed him, with all his company. Knight among dukes, heart of fine silver ”. These verses by Federico García Lorca on the death of José María de Torrijos are, together with the painting by Gisbert or the sonnet by Espronceda, vivid illustrations of what was the life and work of this future Spanish liberal hero, who died for the freedom of His country.

Historical background

José María de Torrijos y Uriarte was born at the end of the 18th century. He lived his childhood in Madrid. He was the son of Cristóbal and Petronila, court officials who had come to the capital from Andalusia. He was only 10 years old when he was already Charles IV’s page. There he would awaken his passion for the military


Jose María de Torrijos y Uriarte was a bourgeois soldier who fought against the French in 1808. A utopian liberal, who aspired to achieve a noble, necessary goal, convinced of its viability. For Torrijos the elimination of absolutism in Spain, in the hands of King Fernando VII, and restoring constitutional order was a priority.

Portrait of General Torrijos
Jose María de Torrijos y Uriarte


Soon the military man immersed himself in various conspiracy plots, with the intention of overthrowing absolutism and reinstating the Constitution of 1812. Specifically, it was through the attempted pronouncement to reestablish “La Pepa” headed by the also military man Juan Van Halen, which is why which General Torrijos was imprisoned for 2 years.


After leaving prison, he would not forget his ideals and would go into exile to England, preparing a new pronouncement, this time headed by him, then moving to Gibraltar. From there, he, together with his 40 companions, would decide to disembark on the coast of Malaga.

The ship landing

In a last desperate attempt, he landed on the beaches of Malaga to try to achieve his mission. This unbeatable tenacity and perseverance of Torrijos and his companions was like a kind of madness, a recklessness.


However, he decides to take the initiative, knowing that his arrival in Spain would be his death sentence. The leader of freedom succumbed to the bullets of ignominy, after losing the battle for his beloved homeland.

Tour about Torrijos, hero of Spanish freedom
Liberal flag


Despite its failure, this event, of epic dimensions, laid the foundations for the weakening of the absolutist regime and paved the way for the liberal Revolution in Spain.

The execution of Torrijos, by Gisbert

The execution of Torrijos and his companions on the beaches of Malaga is a work by Antonio Gisbert Pérez, an extraordinary work painted with oil on canvas. It was made between 1887 and 1888, and currently rests in the Prado Museum in Madrid.


Gisbert was born in the year 1835. He was a great Spanish portraitist, who from a very young age knew the story of this martyr and his tragic death. For this reason, he always defended liberal ideals in Spain tooth and nail. He worked as the director of the Prado Museum between 1868 and 1873.

Obelisk of General Torrijos
Obelisk of General Torrijos


In the painting we can appreciate two perspectives: the first – the important one – is that of the shot, and in a second the soldiers. The gestures of the characters are simply masterful. They are seen dying with dignity, each with a different expression on their faces. As can be seen, due to the quality of the clothing, the first 6 on the right that appear in the foreground belonged to the bourgeoisie. The rest represent the people. It was a bourgeois revolution that aimed to improve the life of the people. Symbol of the bourgeoisie is the top hat.


General Torrijos appears with a serious, concerned, knowledgeable and responsible face of the situation. Beside him, there are other illustrious figures of the time: Francisco Fernandez Golfín – Minister of War in 1823 -, Borja Pardez, Juan López Pinto – Colonel of Artillery-, Manuel Flores Calderón – President of the Spanish Courts in 1823 -.


Among the bourgeoisie stands out a redhead, Robert Boyd. Irishman who joined the Spanish cause. To the left of him we have the people, represented with sailors and cabin boys.


Gilbert himself is represented as a friar.
This painting perfectly reflects that historical moment and the harshness of the execution.


It is not entirely in line with what happened, since those shot were on their knees and at the time of Torrijos’ execution, there was no previous group already shot.

This tour about Torrijos, a Spanish liberal hero, is one of the tours that you can take during your stay in Malaga. Framed in the life and figure of José María de Torrijos y Uriarte and his connection with this coastal city. To make the reservation please Contact us.