Romà Bonet Sintes, who signed his work Bon, was a Catalan artist with a prolific output, gaining international recognition in the early 20th century. He made cartoons for magazines and newspapers, designed posters and book covers, and traveled the country with his trailer, making caricatures-on-demand and performing as a live cartoonist. A strong supporter of the Republican cause, his prominence diminished after the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. He spent his final years making portraits, sculptings and oil paintings.

Early life and career
Romà Bonet Sintes (Romà Bonet i Sintes in Catalan) was born in 1886 in Barcelona as the son of a primary school teacher from the Tortosa region. His paternal grandfather was Román Bonet Chambó - AKA Chambonet - a prominent lieutenant colonel during the mid-19th century First Carlist War over the succession to the Spanish throne. A talented child, Romà Bonet Sintes was twelve years old when he became an apprentice in the workshop of the Barcelona stone cutter and engraver Narcís Perafita. Shortly afterwards, he saw his first drawings published in children's magazines like L'Esquella de la Torratxa and L'Escolanet.

Traveling years
At age 14, Bonet left the family home, beginning a life of travel and adventure. Wandering through Spain, Italy, and North Africa, Bonet always had his drawing material with him, while working odd jobs like Esperanto propagandist and magnifying glass salesman. In Valencia, he hired an Arab servant to recruit clients for him to draw in caricatures. By 1904-1905, Bon was a cartoonist with the humor magazines En Patufet, La Tralla, El Neula, Empori and the Barcelona theater periodical Talia. Five years later, he also appeared in many other Barcelona magazines, including El Gall, La Rialla, Rialles, Follets, Metralla, L'Escolanet, La Campana de Gracia, Cu-Cut, La Piula, Teatralia and Satiricón, as well as Tramuntana from Mahón and Flirt from Girona. In 1909, the first collection of his cartoons and caricatures was published in Alcoy under the title 'Caricaturas Alcoyanas por Bon'.

National and international success
Later in the 1910s, Bon participated in art exhibitions and Humor Salons throughout Catalonia. By then, Bon was an established cartoonist, noted for his observations of street scenes and local characters. Critics compared him to Spanish top cartoonists like Picarol and Apa, but also the German talent of Simplicissimus magazine. The bohemian artist also tried his hand at acting, attending Adrià Gual's School of Dramatic Arts and playing boxers, bullfighters and skaters in stage shows. During the 1920s, Bon spent periods of time in Barcelona, ​​Madrid, Bilbao, Geneva and New York, contributing to local magazines and socializing in intellectual and artistic circles. In Bilbao, he was notably art director of the monthly illustrated magazine Bilbao Gráfico (1922), and in Madrid he was hired as cover designer for Nuevo Mundo magazine. Between 1922 and 1927, he worked for Madrid publications like La Esfera, El Liberal, La Voz de la Raza, Muchas Gracias, Gutiérrez, Humor Gráfico, Chiquilín, and he was a reporter-caricaturist for El Heraldo de Madrid. At the Valencia-based publishing house Editorial Sempere, he made illustrations for books by the avantgardistic writer Ramón Gomez de la Serna.

In Barcelona, he had his own atelier, which he called "El Monestir" and turned into a center of creativity. There, Bon worked with the journalist Manuel Fondevila on humorous newspapers. When in 1927 Fontdevila was hired by the Busquets brothers in Madrid to become editor for the Republican newspapers El Heraldo de Madrid and El Liberal, Bon joined in as political cartoonist.

Additionally, Bon designed advertising posters, several of which won prizes in industrial competitions. Four of his posters were awarded at the 1925 International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris, France. His international reputation rose even further during the 1925-1926 conferences of the League of Nations in Geneva, when his caricatures of the political representatives were printed in newspapers across the globe. In 1927, Bon was appointed representative of the Union of Spanish Cartoonists during a four-month residency in New York City, where he organized exhibitions of Spanish cartoon art. During his New York period, he also produced artwork for the newspapers New York Herald Tribune, the New York Times, World Traveler, Evening Post, the Morning Telegraph, Moving Pictures World and appeared in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair.

Touring caricaturist
At the end of the 1920s, Bon settled in a trailer at the International Exposition of Barcelona (1929-1930), making caricatures of about 8,000 visitors. After the exposition, the popular artist took his trailer on tours through Spain and Gibraltar, working as a caricaturist-for-hire and organizing expositions in several towns. Local newspapers and magazines regularly reported about the arrival of the nomadic artist with his wagon, dog and canary, describing him as a "minstrel" and "a strange type of artist and bohemian", while praising his "magnificent outfit": a lemon-colored silk dressing gown with a colossal collar. Between 1930 and 1936, Bon also entertained young audiences with his "Silent Conferences", eloquent and humorous shows with live drawings.

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Bon was an artist for Catalonia's Commissariat for Propaganda in its fight against fascism. Besides making war propaganda art, he cheered up children with his silent conferences in war shelters, schools and hospitals. In 1937, Bon's caravan was looted and destroyed, leaving the artist down and out. But instead of going in exile - like many other artists and intellectuals - Bon remained faithful to the republic and stayed, in hiding, in the defeated city of Barcelona.

After the Franco coup in 1939, Bon continued working, hoping for better times. Most of the humorous magazines he worked for before the war were censored or forbidden by the new regime, and only few of his artistic friends were no longer around. In 1940, he set up shop in one of the underground halls of the Barcelona subway, creating a new studio decorated as a replica of the famous caravan from his touring years. From there, he made a living with making on-demand caricatures and the occasional commercial illustration job. Bon also experimented with new techniques and art forms, picking up sculpting and oil painting. Twice a year, he closed his studio an organized exhibitions of his drawings and caricatures in several Catalan towns, as well as the Basque country.

Final years and death
Most of Bon's later life was spent with less grandeur than his early years. In October 1959, when the artist turned 70, the Real Círculo Artístico honored Bon with a large overview exhitibion. Several accompanying events were held, including a lecture by the dean of the Faculty of Law about the "human and artistic personality of Bon". In an attempt to raise funds for Bon's precarious economic situation, a Tribute-Dinner was organized at the Hotel Oriente, with the "last bohemian" artist as the guest of honor. Among the 500 participants were the Mayor of Barcelona, the President of the Provincial County and several literary journalists, poets and artists. To celebrate Bon's 75th anniversary, the Horta Artistic Circle organized a collective tribute exhibition dedicated to Bon. Romá Bonet Sintes died in 1967, one day after his 81st birthday. Since then, the work of Bon has been part of several collective and thematic exhitibtions throughout Spain. His son was the sculptor and painter Roman Bonet Giné (1944-2008).

Article about the traveling caricaturist Bon.

Series and books by Romà Bonet Sintes you can order today:


If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.