Francisco de Goya
Fuendetodos, Zaragoza, 1746-Bordeaux, France, 1828
Oil on canvas, 83 x 65 cm
Ramón de la Sota y Aburto bequest, 1980
A great friend of Goya’s since they were at the Pious Schools together in Saragossa, Martín Zapater (1746-1803), a man of the Enlightenment and a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, was honoured by Charles III with the title of Nobleman of Aragon for his generosity. He became a successful tradesman and kept up an abundant correspondence with Goya that is extremely revealing of the painter’s personality. This portrait was painted in 1797, seven years after a previous portrait of Zapater, at a time when Goya was successfully established in Madrid. Still presenting a certain Neoclassical aftertaste, it portrays a mature and healthy-looking Zapater. Goya focuses all his attention on the face, with its prominent nose (not in vain did he call it a narigón or big nose) and frank and direct gaze. Goya has captured his friend’s expressiveness and his distinct and open personality. At a later date the canvas was cut into an oval shape, in the Romantic taste. Francisco de Goya trained as a painter in Saragossa, from where he moved to Madrid in 1775. A protégé of Bayeu’s at court, he excelled in all genres. His extraordinary talent as a portraitist made him the favourite painter among the nobility and the monarchs Charles III, Charles IV and Ferdinand VII, from whose fierce repression against the liberals he flew in 1824. At the age of seventy-eight he settled in Bordeaux, where he would die four years later. [A.S.L.]
Independently of its permanent collection, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum regularly organises temporary exhibition programmes.
Please consult the exhibition calendar for more information about the museum's latest proposals.
Usually classed as a realist painter, Antonio López (born in Tomelloso in 1936) is one of the most idiosyncratic artists at work in Spain after the Civil War. From the 1950s, he has produced drawings, engravings, paintings and sculptures, fashioning an oeuvre of a remarkable technical virtuosity that somehow seems outside time, despite focusing on the realistic representation of living beings and objects. López’s iconographic repertoire always springs from the reality of the visual world and oscillates between scenes of intimacy and the vast outdoors: portraits, still life works, interiors and domestic objects jostle with broad panoramic views.
In 1992 film director Víctor Erice shot the extraordinary El sol del membrillo (The Quince Sun), which concentrates on Antonio López’s creative process, on the intensity with which the artist contemplates objects. This act of rapt attention gives the film a halo of silence and a sensation of time suspended, which moves the viewer to a similar state of meditative absorption. the painter’s highly distinctive use of light contributes enormously to the dreamlike, metaphysical atmosphere, to the suggestion of the visible as a door, slightly ajar, to the invisible.
Despite his realist style, Antonio López has shaped an oeuvre independent from the other, more recent European realist or naturalist trends and from American hyperrealism. What he seeks in the reality that surrounds him are the quotidian aspects that awaken his interest; he works slowly and painstakingly towards his goal of capturing the essence of the sitter or of the objects or the land- and cityscapes portrayed. Curated by historian Guillermo Solana, art director at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, and the artist' s daughter María López, the exhibition will include a very complete overview of the oeuvre of Spanish artist Antonio López.
The selection of around 130 works, oil paintings, drawings and sculptures, represent his most recurrent themes: interiors, where the fantastic and emotive irrupt into daily life, the human figure, landscapes and the famous cityscapes of Madrid and Tomelloso, and his fruit compositions.Although works dated between 1949 and 2010 will be on show, the project concentrates largely on his output from the last two decades, which will include signature works like his earliest, slightly surreal family portraits, the legendary view of Madrid’s Gran Vía and the drawings of his studio. But attention will also be paid to more recent works, some of which are still unfinished and, logically, as yet unseen.
The exhibition as a whole will highlight the slow, meditative process by which Antonio López, one of today’s leading and most admired Spanish artists, arrives at his art.
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