Manuel Mateo

Barcelona, 1896 – Barcelona, 1984

grupo autores

His relation to the profession of reporter started when he was only 14 years old, as assistant to Alessandro Merletti. In an interview Mateo recalled, “at the beginning my tasks where simple and humble; I drove the popular photographer’s car. I prepared his cameras, very voluminous back then. I was in charge of carrying, on my shoulders, his notorious ladder”. 

After four years learning from pioneer Merletti, he went independent and began to work solo for various newspapers in Barcelona and Madrid. He collaborated in the main publications on the first third of XX Century. He worked mainly at El Día, La Voz, La Lidia, La Fiesta Brava, Gaceta Deportiva, El Día Gráfico, La Noche, Vida Deportiva, Mediterráneo and Heraldo Deportivo, among others. 

Although initially hecovered general information, he slowly specialised in bullfighting reports until he became one of the most recognised photographers of this genre. 

During the 1920’s he provided photographs to Brangulí. At first, these images were published in ABC and Blanco y Negro with the byline “Photo Mateo. Provided by Brangulí”. Responding to complaints by the newspaper, it was decided thatonly the correspondent should sign the captions, even though Mateo had taken the photos. The deal between the photographers was to share evenly the 10 “pesetas” paid by the publisher. 

In parallel, the photographer developed a line in wedding photographyatthe Ritz Hotel. Such was the volume of the work that his wife entered the business little by little, taking charge of the laboratory work. Finally, their son Manuel Mateo Collino also joined in to help the family business. 

In 1921 Mateo was one of the founders of the Agrupació de Repòrters Gràfics de Barcelona, the first group dedicated specifically to photojournalism in Barcelona as far as is known. After the war he continued working without any obstruction. According to a police report, “shortly after the end of the war, Mateo was one of the photographers who worked the most as at the time he was considered apolitical”. 

He died in 1984 leaving an immense archive. According to Josep Cruanyes, it included “some twenty thousand plates and fifty thousand 35mm”. The archive has been divided. Part of his work can now be consulted at the Arxiu Fotogràfic de Barcelona and at the Bullfighting Museum dedicated to Manolete in Villa del Río (Córdoba).