Julio Romero de Torres (Cordoba, 1874-1930), one of Spain’s leading artists in the first half of the 20th century, held his first individual exhibition in Bilbao in 1919. With that first exhibition very much in mind, the current show at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum involves fifty or so major works by the artist, including nearly all of his most representative paintings. After many years in the artistic wilderness, Romero de Torres’ status as an artist is undergoing a major critical review. Criticism had long been levelled at his art, always rooted in the Andalusian poetic imagination, for what were seen as its cliché-ridden themes.
Today, however, critics are beginning to concentrate on other, more relevant features of his paintings, in particular his personal reading of Symbolism and the remarkably eclectic nature of his sources of inspiration. A special effort has been made to accompany these better known paintings with other works from private collections that have not been seen in public for many years. Together with the main body of works belonging to the Julio Romero de Torres museum, the Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid and the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, among others, the exhibition also includes paintings from American collections (Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay) which have not been displayed in Spain since they left the country.
This exhibition is one of a series of exhibitions at the Museum featuring the work of leading late 19th- and early 20th-century Spanish artists, such as Sorolla and Zuloaga. It also recalls the links that Romero de Torres established with contemporary Basque artists and intellectuals like Unamuno, Ricardo Baroja, Valentín de Zubiaurre and Zuloaga himself.
In the image:
Julio Romero de Torres (1874-1930)
Venus of Poetry , 1913
Oil on canvas, 93,2 x 154 cm
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao