The Cardinal 1912 (El Cardenal)
Oil on canvas 201 x 136cm
Museum of Fine Art, Bilbao (Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao)
Ignacio Zuloaga was a Spanish genre and portrait painter known for his theatrical paintings of figures from Spanish culture and folklore. His family was somewhat artistic, as his father, Plácido Zuloaga, was a metalworker and demascener. During his childhood, Zuloaga worked and began sketching in his father's metal workshop. .
Ignacio's father wanted his son to become an architect so much that Ignacio was sent, at the age of nineteen, to Italy to learn from the master architects there. However, while in Italy, Zuloaga fell in love with Italian paintings and decided that he wanted to become a painter instead. He began to paint and within six months produced his first painting which was then displayed at the Paris Salon in France in the year of 1890. Continuing his studies in Paris, he was in contact with the prominent French post-impressionists artists. For this reason, it is often said that Ignacio's paintings are Spanish, yet ‘speak to us in French’. .
In 1898, he discovered his Spanish predecessors that inhabit the rooms of Prado Museum in Segovia. Zuloaga developed a style based on the Spanish realist tradition, allowing us to reminisce Velázquez and Murillo in their earthy colouring and genre themes. The portraits painted by Zuloaga, however, were much more concerned with expressing the character of the subject of the paintings. He painted portraits of attired bullfighters and flamenco dancers, as well as village-scape scenes while extensively using earthy and muted tones.
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