Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta
- Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta
- Gitana florista
- signed I. Zuloaga (lower left)
- oil on canvas
Mr. and Mrs. José Alegría, San Juan, Puerto Rico (by 1989)
M. R. Schweitzer, New York (no. 4818)
Acquired from the above
New York, The Spanish Institute, Ignacio Zuloaga in America 1909-1925, February 2-April 29, 1989, no. 42 (as The Gypsy Flower Seller, lent my Mr. and Mrs. Alegría)
Mayi Milhou, Ignacio Zuloaga (1870-1945) et la France, n.p. 1981, p. 184
Enrique Lafuente Ferrari, Vida y obra de Ignacio Zuloaga, Barcelona, 1990, p. 497, no. 159
The paintings that ensued were inspired by his predecessors such as El Greco, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Goya (with whom Zuloaga’s great-grandfather was friends) – as well as his contemporaries Manet and Picasso – and he situated himself as the artistic successor to the Spanish Realist masters. “Zuloaga was a witness to his times, just as the classic painters he tried to follow had been” (Gómez de Caso, “Women of Sepúlveda (1909),”Ignacio Zuloaga 1870-1945, 1990, exh. cat., p. 180). Zuloaga’s choice to paint from everyday Spanish life epitomizes the ideals of the Generación del 98. In the wake of Spain’s loss of her colonial empire at the end of the Spanish American War in 1898, these artists and intellectuals aimed to capture what they felt to be the very essence of Spain and its people in a noble, yet unidealized way.
Painted in 1902, upon his return to Seville after a five-year absence, Gitana florista depicts a Maja (an eighteenth and nineteenth century term identifying a member of the Spanish working class) wearing a traditional teal-colored Manila shawl. Typical of the Spanish Realist tradition, and evoking the work of Velazquez and Murillo, he employs an earth-toned palette to ground his subject. By muting the background landscape and painting it in a palette of deep grey, burnt ochre and mauve, he allows his colorful flower seller to stand proudly in dramatic contrast to her surroundings. She gazes out at the viewer and in turn is the sole focus of the painting, allowing her to personify the artist’s vision of Spain’s rich culture.
Zuloaga was born into a family of artisans: while his grandfather had been the director of the Royal Armory in Madrid, his father was an armorer credited with reviving the art of damascene (decorating metal with inlays or intricate etched patterns), and his uncle a ceramicist. Zuloaga was expected to follow in the family trade but an early visit to the Prado inspired his determination to become one of Spain’s premier painters. He moved to Paris in 1889 to study in Eugene Carrière’s atelier and developed an influential group of friends and acquaintances including Ramon Casas, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin, and Auguste Rodin.