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16|10|19 The centennial of the 1919 International Exhibition

The museum is presenting a monographic issue of the Bulletin and a Study Workshop on Bilbao 1919 thanks to the sponsorship of Metro Bilbao

Aspirations of modernity of the Association of Basque Artists, which was active during the first four decades of the 20th century, reached a peak in 1919, when it held the first International Painting and Sculpture Exhibition in the
Berástegui Schools of Bilbao (whose land is now occupied by the Palace of Justice of Bilbao). This event, which is now celebrating its centennial, was important for the artistic milieu of Bilbao at that time, as well as for the fate of the collection of the Fine Arts Museum.

Organised by what was then the Regional Government of Bizkaia, and by a committee presided over by Ramón de la Sota and made up of artists, architects, collectors and experts—such as the influential Bilbao-based art critic Ricardo Gutiérrez Abascal, who wrote under the pen name of Juan de la Encina—the show was crucial to the artistic fate of the city as it made a huge contribution to the formation of the young artists by bringing together, albeit a bit late, works by famous international creators like Picasso, Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Maurice Denis and Mary Cassatt.

The exhibition brought together more than 400 works from 139 artists from the Basque Country, Madrid, Catalonia and France. The participants included famous names in Basque art such as Iturrino, Losada, Arteta, Guezala, Larroque, Maeztu, Tellaeche, the Zubiaurre brothers and Quintín de Torre, along with Catalans working within the sphere of modernism or Noucentisme (Rusiñol, Canals, Casas, Nonell, Pichot, Casanovas, Borrell Nicolau and Julio Antonio), as well as prestigious painters from the official Spanish art world (Aureliano de Beruete, Manuel Benedito and José Rodríguez Acosta), independent artists like Gutiérrez Solana and García Maroto, and even creators associated with the international modernisation of the artistic languages underway at that time, such as Picasso and the sculptor Pablo Gargallo.

Likewise, the galleries devoted to foreign artists hosted a magnificent representation of late 19th-century and early 20th-century French art via painters associated with Impressionism like Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, Forain, Mary Cassatt and their forerunner Eugène Boudin; artists associated with the realism espoused by Courbet (represented in the exhibition with one work) such as Cottet; symbolists (Redon); neo-Impressionists (Seurat and Signac); post-Impressionists (Cézanne, Van Gogh, Le Sidaner and Gauguin, represented by 19 works); Nabis (Maurice Denis, Vuillard and Valloton); and Fauvists (Matisse, Van Dongen, Girieud, Manguin, Marquet and Jacqueline Marval). Perhaps taking the august Salon d'Automne of Paris as a model, which tended to pay homage to artists who played a prominent role in the development of modern art, the exhibition devoted monographic galleries to the painters Juan de Echevarría, Ignacio Zuloaga, Darío de Regoyos and Hermen Anglada Camarasa.
As a new feature compared to other major art events organised until then, the First International Painting and Sculpture Exhibition of Bilbao handed out no medals or prizes, as the Regional Government instead preferred to earmark that money to purchasing some of the works for the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. On 30 August 1919, the jury in charge of selecting these works, made up of the painters Santiago Rusiñol, Óscar Rochelt and José Moreno Villa; the illustrator Luis Bagaría; the art historian Manuel B. Cossío; the art critic Ricardo Gutiérrez Abascal; the architect Manuel M. Smith; the filmmaker Nemesio M. Sobrevila; the musicologist and journalist Juan Carlos de Gortázar; his brother Ricardo; the collector Ramón Aras Jáuregui; and Gregorio de Ybarra, decided to purchase 22 of the works shown at the exhibition.

This would become the core collection which originated the Modern Art Museum three years later, and it included works like Mary Cassatt's Seated Woman with a Child in her Arms and Paul Gauguin's Laveuses à Arles (Washerwomen of Arles), which then and for many years to come were the first works by these two prominent post-Impressionist painters in a public collection in Spain. De la Sota also purchased and donated Zuloaga's Portrait of Countess Mathieu de Noailles, and other works which were also part of the exhibition, such as two lithographs by Cézanne, were added to the collection later.

On the occasion of this centennial, the alphabet of the Museum is being updated by presenting the works purchased at that time by the Regional Government in gallery A. they include not only the two aforementioned works by Cassatt and Gauguin but also paintings by Juan de Echevarría (2), Isidre Nonell, Paul Sérusier, José Gutiérrez Solana, Hermen Anglada Camarasa, Domingo Carles, Charles Cottet, Henri Le Sidaner and Ricard Canals, as well as etchings by Francisco Iturrino (4) and Xavier Nogués (4) and two sculptures by Joan Borrell and Julio Antonio.


Bulletin 11

On the occasion of the joint exhibition of the works acquired at the 1919 International Painting and Sculpture Exhibition, issue 11 of the museum's scholarly Bulletin is being published thanks to the sponsorship of Metro Bilbao. Specifically, it will be a monograph devoted to this artistic event coordinated by University of the Basque Country Art History professors Ismael Manterola and Mikel Onandia, with the following contributors: Joseba Agirreazkuenaga, professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Communication at the UPV/EHU; María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, associate professor of Art History and director of the Art History Department at the Complutense University of Madrid; and Andere Larrinaga, Professor in the Art and Music History Department at the UPV/EHU.

The publication, which will be digital, open-access and downloadable from the museum's website, provides an in-depth study of the gestation, development and consequences of the show, while also addressing other factors like the historical, socio-political and cultural context that made it possible, the European art system at the time, collecting and the art market in Bilbao in the early 20th century, and the criticism generated by this crucial episode in the city's artistic fate and the museum's development.

In the first article, María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco analyses the artistic framework of the International Exhibition at a time when the modern artistic languages were being institutionalised, which translated into official exhibitions and the creation of contemporary art museums. After that, Joseba Agirreazkuenaga outlines the political and cultural reality of Bilbao in the second half of the 1910s. Then, Mikel Onandia examines the phenomenon of collecting, the art market and the museum model of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, which stands out for its early attention to contemporary creation and its close relationship with local artists. Next, Ismael Manterola undertakes an exhaustive analysis of the organisation, contents and effects of the International Painting and Sculpture Exhibition, while Andere Larrinaga studies the repercussions and main critical judgements published on the event in the press, within the framework of Bilbao-based art criticism.

Finally, the annexes include a list of publications and a selection of art criticism articles on the exhibition culled by Andere Larrinaga, along with a reproduction of the original catalogue of the 1919 International Painting and Sculpture Exhibition.


All the articles are available in Basque and Spanish and may be downloaded free of charge on the museum's website.


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Bilbao 1919 Workshop


During a monographic workshop, the art historians María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco, María Jesús Pacho, Mikel Onandia, Ismael Manterola and Andere Larrinaga will analyse the artistic value of the 1919 exhibition, while also paying attention to its historical framework and its repercussions on Basque art in the early 20th century, and on the collecting history of this museum.



9.00 am


9.30 am


10.00 am

Art and the Art System in around 1919

María Dolores Jiménez-Blanco

Associate professor of Art History and Director of the Art History Department at the Complutense University of Madrid

10.45 am

Architecture and Urban Planning

María Jesús Pacho

Professor in the Art and Music History Department at the UPV/EHU

11.30 am

Coffee break

12.00 am

From the Private Salon to the Exhibition Hall. Collecting and the Art Market in Bilbao in around 1919

Mikel Onandia

Professor in the Art and Music History Department at the UPV/EHU

12.45 am

Visit to Gallery A | Break

15.30 am

The International Painting and Sculpture Exhibition

Ismael Manterola

Professor in the Art and Music History Department at the UPV/EHU

16.15 am

The Event from the Vantage Point of Art Criticism

Andere Larrinaga

Professor in the Art and Music History Department at the UPV/EHU

17.00 am




Thursday 14 November from 9 am to 5 pm. Top floor


Free of charge. Registration online only:



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