Valencia, 1863-Cercedilla, Madrid, 1923
Oil on canvas, 103.5 x 125.5 cm
Contributed by the City Council of Bilbao in 1913
Joaquín Sorolla’s artistic beginnings are connected to the academicism prevailing in Spain in the late nineteenth century. In 1879 he trained at the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia and from there moved to Madrid in 1881, where he discovered the oeuvre of Velázquez, which made a deep impression on him. Having obtained a grant he was able to settle in Rome during the first months of 1885, and subsequently moved to Paris, where he would be greatly influenced by the artistic avant-garde. During the decade of 1890 he produced genre paintings and works that focused on social criticism, followed by experiments based on the predominance of flat light that distanced him from Impressionist painters and earned him international acclaim, especially with his beach scenes. Sorolla’s career was confirmed in Madrid, where he settled in 1890. Kissing the Relic belongs to a period in which his own personal style was beginning to evolve, bringing together his past experience and achieving notable successes: a third-class medal at the Parisian Salon, the same distinction at the 4th International Salon in Vienna in 1894 and then a first medal at the Exhibition of Spanish Art in Bilbao. During this period Sorolla based his compositions on his skill as a draughtsman, his meticulous descriptions and wise use of light and colour in genre scenes (some of them anecdotal) connected to bourgeois taste. In this work a procession of faithful is reverently awaiting to kiss the relic held by the parish priest in a side chapel of the San Pablo church in Valencia. This act of veneration marks the end of the mass and is the opportunity taken by an altar boy to sell religious pictures—the scene is therefore a fine example of genre painting. [J.N.G]
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.
Basque sculptor Néstor Basterretxea (Bermeo, Biscay, 1924) recently donated one of the most celebrated series of Basque sculptures dating from the second half of the XX century to the Museum: the Basque Cosmogony Series. The Series was first exhibited by the Museum in 1973.
The current exhibition comprises 18 sculptures, 17 of which are made of oak and 1 of bronze, which the artist created between 1972 and 1975. The finely crafted works executed in contemporary language are based on mythological characters, forces of nature and traditional objects from Basque culture taken from José Miguel de Barandiarán’s Diccionario de Mitología Vasca (Dictionary of Basque Mythology, 1972). Visitors will also have the opportunity of admiring 5 works from the Máscaras de la Madrina Luna Series created in 1977 as well as several preparatory drawings.
It is also on exhibition two movies directed by Néstor Basterretxea and Fernando Larruquert, entitled Pelotari (1964) and Ama Lur (1968), and a documental about the artist.
BASQUE COSMOGONY SERIES
1. AKELARRE and AKER BELTZ (Black billy goat)
Meadow where wizards met on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights to worship Aker Beltz, a spirit which took the shape of a billy goat and protected the livestock. Pagan tradition.
3. EIZTARIA (The hunter)
Legend has it that a hunter, punished for his excessive love of hunting, wanders ceaselessly over the mountains with his dogs.
4. GAUEKO (He who stalks the night)
Spirit of the night in the shape of a cow or a monster; his presence is marked by gusts of wind.
5. IDITTU (Night spirit)
Night spirit with the form of an animal; his presence is marked by a flame.
6. ILLARGI AMANDRE (Godmother Moon)
A divinity associated with fertility.
7. INTXIXU (Wild demon)
Legendary spirit haunting caves and deserted areas.
8. AMALAU ZANKO (The ghost of the fourteen stilts)
A strange malignant being.
9. ARGIZAIOLA eta ARGIZAIOLA ZUTA (Light of the dead)
Tablets in remembrance of the departed; the wax scroll symbolizes the fire in the hearth that lives on in the temple.
11. BOST HAIZEAK (The five winds)
Natural phenomenon. The lauburu (four heads) is a pre-Christian symbol, used from the 16th and 17th centuries in funeral steles, on houses fronts or as an amulet or charm.
12. EATE (The harvest destroyer)
Spirit of storms, fire, floods, lightning and hurricanes.
13. MAIRUAK (The cromlech builders)
Pagan builders of dolmens and cromlechs.
14. OSTADAR (Rainbow)
Natural phenomenon considered to be magical in the ancient world.
15. TRIKU HARRI (Stone of the hedgehog. Homage to the dolmen)
Name of a dolmen, a prehistoric monument widely found in the Basque Country.
16. MAJUE (Subterranean spirit)
Pernicious underground spirit; with his wife Mari he conjures up hailstorms.
17. MARI (Main goddess of Basque Mythology)
Female spirit living in caverns. Legend has it that her cave is one of the faces of Mount Amboto, in the Duranguesado area.
18. TORTO (Malign one-eyed spirit)
Malignant, man-eating spirit with one eye.
05|16|14 • 09|01|14
06|10|14 • 09|15|14
THE GUEST WORK
07|02|14 • 10|13|14
10|07|14 • 01|19|15
04|30|14 • 08|25|14
THE GUEST WORK
04|09|14 • 06|30|14
02|18|14 • 05|19|14