Presumably between 1875 and 1900, on an unknown date, the artist from Valencia, Emilio Mas de Ayala (b. 1860) arrived in Montevideo from Madrid. He had been a student of the Academia de Bellas Artes de Barcelona and a fellow student of Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. In Montevideo, he primarily made portraits, with a sleek naturalist technique that he would not always conventionally utilize. Many times he would introduce unexpected dramatic accents to his portraits, as if he suddenly sought to deviate from the mundane conformity characteristic of Spanish Luminism. Becoming more and more constrained by a mental illness, he was interned in 1910 in a hospital for the mentally ill located at the outskirts of Montevideo. There he remained painting incessantly until his death in 1928.
There is very little information available on his artistic trajectory, his personal life, on his ideas or on the final destination of his work that most likely was dispersed or hopelessly lost. The truth is that [Emilio] Mas did not stand out as an artist for his more or less academic portraits he created at the end of the 20th century in Uruguay. What led him to transcend (though far from a considerable place in the historiography of Uruguayan national art) were the small sketches and outlines, he made during his hospital confinement. One of his treating physicians, the psychiatrist Isidro Mas de Ayala (author of the article), had a frank personal affinity with this patient. On two occasions, the author relates several testimonial aspects of his linkage: the first time was this article that appeared in the magazine La Pluma in 1928. The second time was in a novel he published in 1941, under the title El loco que yo mate where Mas de Ayala introduces real biographical aspects on the artist from Valencia but embodied in a fictional plot critiquing the practice of psychiatry he exerts to an elevated limit.