Born in Salamanca, Spain in 1891, Celso Lagar would become an influential painter in both France and his native Spain. His father was a woodworker, whom likely provided the influence in his choice of sculpture as a medium. He first apprenticed to Miquel Blay in his Madrid atelier before moving to Barcelona in 1910. Here he was granted a scholarship which enabled him to travel to Paris to study sculpture.
During his time in Paris he met the artists Joseph Bernard, Amedio Modigliani and the sculptress Hortense Begue who, in 1912, would become his wife. By 1913 he had abandoned sculpture to concentrate on his painting but just as his career was beginning, World War I broke out. He managed to get to Spain where, in 1915, he had his first solo exhibition at the Dalmau Galleries in Barcelona.
He would remain in Spain until 1919 when he moved back to Paris to settle permanently. In the years leading up to World War II he enjoyed his greatest success exhibiting with many of the leading art dealers of Paris including Galerie Percier, Modigliani’s dealer Leopold Zborowski and the pioneering Berthe Weill who gave The first exhibitions to both Picasso and Matisse.
When Paris was taken by the Germans in 1940, Lagar fled to the Pyrenees remaining there until the liberation in 1944. Upon his return to Paris he found things had changed dramatically and had difficulty in getting his work exhibited as before. Following his wife suffering a serious illness he fell into depression and, 1956, was admitted to the Broca Psychiatric Hospital. By Court order the remaining contents of his atelier were auctioned to pay for his treatment. He would remain there until 1964 when he retuned to Spain with a sister, living with her in a modest house in Seville. It was here that Celso Lagar died on September 6, 1966. His paintings today can be seen in numerous important collections including at the museums of Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, New York and the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.