This is one of the most acclaimed paintings by Juan de Barroeta on account of its compositional harmony, its precise draughtsmanship and its delicate balance of nature and genre. It is an example of the most orthodox form of Realist landscape, scrupulous objectivity and respect for painting from life, a genre initiated by Carlos de Haes, an authority on landscape painting in Spain for many years. The view, captured from a municipality near Bilbao, depicts the bay into which flow the waters of the river Nervión and the silhouette of mount Serantes in the background. The scene was painted just a few metres away from the plot of land where Barroeta would buy a house in 1889 that he named Villa Haes, as a tribute to the Belgian painter who had spent his last summers in Algorta. Barroeta would have been responsible for Haes first visits to these lands, to which he would subsequently return accompanied by his loyal disciple Jaime Morera.
The son of a portrait painter, Juan de Barroeta began to paint at an early age and in 1848, shortly before his thirteenth birthday, he met Federico de Madrazo on one of the latters trips to Bilbao. The meeting proved to be decisive and in 1851, under the masters guidance, Barroeta began his studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. Upon his return to Bilbao, he became a portraitist of Bilbao society in the second half of the 19th century, work he combined with an active role at the School of Arts and Crafts. [J.A.L.]