Martin de Vos
Amberes, Belgium, 1532-1603
Oil on oak panel, 133.7 x 174.5 cm
Donated by Horacio Echevarrieta in 1919
The theme represented by De Vos in this painting was related by Ovid in his Metamor-phoses. The god Jupiter, in love with Europa, daughter of the Phoenician King Agenor, turned into a bull to abduct her and take her to Crete, where he made her his. The young girl can be seen in the background, before the abduction, playing on the shore with her companions while Mercury glides in the sky surrounded by cupids, one of whom holds Jupiter’s rays in his hands. Martin de Vos was inspired by a composition painted by Titian between 1559 and 1562, at present kept at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Having reached his artistic maturity, he revealed his skill in the execution of grounds and of anecdotal details (in the purest Flemish tradition), and in the portrayal of the female nude. This figure is impeccably rendered in sfumato, and the light seems to emerge from the flesh through soft transparencies. The yellow robe and the undulating red cloth grant the composition its colour and movement. In short, this work—one of the best and most interesting of those by De Vos—reveals a perfect synthesis of Italian taste and his refined Flemish training. Martin de Vos probably began his career in the workshop run by his father, Pieter de Vos. He travelled to Italy around the year 1552 accompanying Pieter Brueghel the Elder, and settled in Rome and Florence. In Venice he worked in Tintoretto’s studio as a specialist in landscape painting. Upon his return to Antwerp in 1558 he became the most distinguished Italianate artist in the city. [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.
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.
01|24|14 • 04|28|14
02|18|14 • 05|19|14
THE GUEST WORK
04|09|14 • 06|30|14
05|16|14 • 09|01|14
06|10|14 • 09|15|14
10|07|14 • 01|19|15
THE GUEST WORK
01|15|14 • 04|07|14
03|05|14 • 03|31|14
09|23|13 • 02|17|14