This canvas describes a country scene enlivened by a poetry reading by two bersolaris (improvisers of popular verses in Basque) performing before the attentive gaze of a group of locals. The theatrical air of the characters, whose figures are silhouetted and perfectly framed by a twilight Basque landscape in which the last rays of sun emphasise the solemnity of the moment, grants the scene a symbolic quality. Alongside the descriptiveness of the male and female figures and the material qualities of the still lifes, light plays a decisive role in this composition that evokes certain classic Dutch painting genre scenes.
Deaf and dumb like his brother, Valentín de Zubiaurre studied at the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid as well as in France, the Netherlands and Italy. A painter of Basque and Castilian scenes, his oeuvre—which enjoyed international renown during the years between the two world wars—presented a range of types, landscapes and traditions of these regions endeavouring to transcend the scenes described, as a result of which his pictures were characterised by an underlying Symbolism. [S.A.]
Santiago Arcediano. Guía de Artistas Vascos. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2008 (1ª ed. 2008; ed. inglés), pp. 79- 80, n.º 36, ad vocem.
Miren Jaio. Estanpa bilduma = Colección de estampas = A Collection of Prints. Donostia-San Sebastián : Etxepare Euskal Institutua, 2012, pp. 16-19, 78.
Santiago Arcediano. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 146, n.º 102, ad vocem.