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Annotated works

ZULOAGA, Ignacio

(Eibar, Gipuzkoa, 1870-Madrid, 1945)

The Cardinal

Oil on canvas

201 x 236,3 cm

1912

Basque Artists (19th Century - Mid-20th Century)

N.° inv. 82/53

Donated by Javier Horn in 1966

Portrait of Countess Mathieu de Noailles

Oil on canvas

152 x 195,5 cm

1913

Basque Artists (19th Century - Mid-20th Century)

N.° inv. 82/50

Donated by Ramón de la Sota y Llano in 1919


ZULOAGA, Ignacio on Online collection

The Cardinal presents Zuloaga's new conception of art after his sojourns in Castile. From that moment on he began to organise his portraits in two sections—figures in the foreground and symbolic backgrounds—both equally lacking in atmosphere. In this canvas, where the legacy of Spanish pictorial tradition is particularly evident, Zuloaga follows this compositional model and reinterprets the pompous portraits of the 17th century. To the monumental presence of the old ecclesiastic, personified by his usual sitter Francisco, the painter adds a view of the Castilian town of Sepúlveda and the figure of a young priest, thereby granting the picture a static timelessness and alluding to the oeuvre of El Greco.

In its turn, the Portrait of Countess Mathieu de Noailles depicts Anna Elisabeth de Brancovan, Parisian poetess of Greco-Romanian origin. As in the previous work, heavy drapes frame the portrait, thereby emphasising its theatrical quality. However, Zuloaga chooses to open the composition up to a cloudscape also inspired by El Greco's backgrounds, granting maximum prominence to the sensuous figure of the woman. Finally, in the lower right angle Zuloaga paints a still life, laying a table with books that evoke a love of literature, a pearl necklace (a symbol of passion) and a vase of roses (a token of love), forming at once a small symbolic compendium of the personality of the countess and bringing to date the Spanish Baroque vanitas theme.

Although critics from around the world considered Zuloaga to be one of the best painters of the early 20th century, in Spain he was accused of extolling the country's backwardness. Perhaps because he did not receive an academic education, or perhaps because he was influenced by Parisian intellectual circles and had connections with the movement known as the Generation of '98, his sources of inspiration were Spanish popular culture and 17th-century painting, as well as Goya. His paintings were consequently characterised by their expressiveness and psychological penetration, revealing a certain Romantic quality and a skilful execution, all of which would become key features of his subsequent work.  [J.N.G]

Selected bibliography (The Cardinal):

Enrique Lafuente Ferrari. La vida y el arte de Ignacio Zuloaga. Barcelona : Planeta, 1990, pp. 255-256, n.º 352.

Ignacio Zuloaga, 1870-1945. [Cat. exp.]. Vitoria-Gasteiz : Eusko Jaurlaritza = Gobierno Vasco, 1990, PP. 192- 193.

Cinq Siècles d'Art Espagnol : 1, De Greco à Picasso. [Cat. exp.]. Madrid ; París : Ministerio de Cultura ; Musées, 1987, pp. 414- 415, n.º 150.

Da Goya a Picasso : la pittura spagnola dell'ottocento. [Cat. exp.]. Milano : Mazzotta, 1991, pp. 58- 186.

Henrik Karge. Vision Oder Wirklichkeit : Die spanische Malerei der Neuzeit. München : Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1991, p. 250.

Mariano Gómez de Caso Estrada. 5 pintores vascos en Segovia. [Cat. exp.]. Segovia : Caja Segovia, Obra Social y Cultural, 1993, pp. 91-108.

Javier Novo González. Guía de Artistas Vascos. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2008 (1ª ed. 2008; ed. inglés), pp. 56- 58, n.º 24, ad vocem.

Javier Novo González. 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), pp. 130-131, n.º 89a, ad vocem.

Selected bibliography (Portrait of Countess Mathieu de Noailles):

Enrique Lafuente Ferrari. La vida y el arte de Ignacio Zuloaga. Barcelona : Editorial Planeta, 1990, pp. 111, 171, 173-174, 255-256, 286, 293, 297, 510, il. 29, n.º 378.

Xesqui Castañer López. La imagen de la mujer en la plástica vasca contemporánea, s. XVIII-XX : aproximación a una metodología del género. Bilbao : Universidad del País Vasco = Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, 1993, p. 68.

Sorolla & Zuloaga : dos visiones para un cambio de siglo. [Cat. exp.].Bilbao : Fundación Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa = Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa Fundazioa ; Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 1997, pp. 186-187, n. º 51

Zuloaga, Maeztu : la mujer, dos visiones .[Cat. exp.]. Zumaia ; Estella-Lizarra : Museoa Ignacio Zuloaga ; Museo Gustavo de Maeztu, 1998, p. 15.

De Picasso a Bacon : arte contemporáneo en las colecciones del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. [Cat. exp.]. Segovia : Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente, 1999, p. 20.

Dietrich Höllhuber ; Werner Schäfke. Der Spanische Jakobsweg : landschaft, geschichte und Kunst auf dem Weg nach Santiago de Compostela. Köln : DuMont, 1999, p. 286.
Emakumearen irudia : bestelako begiratu bat = La imag
en de la mujer : otra mirada.
[Cat. exp.]. Vitoria-Gasteiz : Diputación Foral de Álava, 2003, pp. 57- 58.

Prelude to spanish modernism : Fortuny to Picasso = Preludio al modernismo español : de Fortuny a Picasso. [Cat. exp.]. Albuquerque ; Dallas : The Albuquerque Museum ; Meadows Museum ; Southern Methodist University, 2005, p. 250.

Javier Novo González. Guía de Artistas Vascos. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2008 (1ª ed. 2008; ed. inglés), pp. 56- 58, n.º 24, ad vocem.

L'Espagne entre deux siècles : de Zuloaga à Picasso. [Cat. exp.]. Paris : Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2011, pp. 52- 53.

Javier Novo González. 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), pp. 130-131, n.º 89b, ad vocem.

Annotated works