Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Oil on canvas, 148 x 104 cm
Deposited by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, after dation by BBVA in 2000
This pathetic image of St Peter repented of his denial of Christ, according to the story in the Gospels, was attributed to Ribera on account of its naturalism and the tenebrist lighting that makes the figure stand out against a dark uniform background. Nonetheless, it has been unanimously recognised as the work of the Sevillian painter Murillo, dated relatively early in his production, around the years 1650-1655, when Ribera exerted a strong but mellow influence over the former. The disposition of the figure creates the effect of a slightly downward diagonal from right to left, and the ashlar on which the book and the keys are placed relate the work to other compositions such as Ribera’s Saint Jerome in The Cleveland Museum of Art, of roughly the same period. The face, expressing restrained pathos, expresses grief and hope very well, while the materials, with rounded pleats, are characteristic of the time the work was probably painted. Twenty years later Murillo tackled the same theme again in a canvas for the Hospital of the Venerables in Seville, today kept in the Townsend Collection in Newick. This version was similarly inspired in Ribera but painted in the artist’s more diaphanous style of 1678, year in which the work has been dated after Ponz and Ceán Bermúdez, who apparently had access to documentation on the subject. This is a significant work among those produced in the mid-seventeenth century, when Murillo was gradually moving away from Tenebrism towards greater expressive freedom. While the composition is indebted to the standing figures of saints painted by Zurbarán, Murillo’s sensitivity has little in common with the austerity of the Estremaduran artist and his pictures of saints, with their delicate and free-flowing technique, are the very expression of holiness. [A.E.P.S.]
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.
06|10|14 • 09|15|14
THE GUEST WORK
07|02|14 • 10|13|14
10|07|14 • 01|19|15
05|16|14 • 09|01|14
04|30|14 • 08|25|14
THE GUEST WORK
04|09|14 • 06|30|14