1870 - 1945
LA IGLESIA DE MALUENDA
signed I Zuloaga (lower left)
oil on canvas
36¾ by 47¾ in.
93.3 by 121.3 cm
Esther Slater Kerrigan (acquired directly from the artist and sold, her sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, January 8, 1942, lot 52, illustrated)
Schweitzer Galleries, New York
Acquired from the above circa 1980
New York, Reinhardt Galleries, Ignacio Zuloaga, January 4-31, 1925, no. 52
Enrique Lafuente Ferrari, La vida y el arte de Ignacio Zuloaga, Barcelona, 1991, p. 238, no. 485
Ignacio Zuloaga’s painting of the Iglesia de las Santas Justa y Rufina in Maluenda, Spain, a tiny hilltop town southwest of Zaragoza in Aragon, reflects the earthy palette of the area – ochre, red, olive green and muted greys. Iglesia de las Santas Justa y Rufina rises stoically above a minimal and seemingly uninhabited landscape, a dramatic sky swirling with grey, slate blue and lavender providing a fitting backdrop.
Saints Justa and Rufina were martyred in the third century A.D. in Seville; dedicated chapels can be found in Zaragoza and Toledo and the pair were depicted by seventeenth century artists such as Diego Velázquez and Francisco de Zurburán. Despite an intense devotion to his Basque roots and his immersion in the avant-garde movements of Paris in the 1910s and 1920s, Zuloaga was deeply influenced by the great masters of Spanish art. When he first visited Madrid and the Prado as a seventeen-year-old, he copied two heads of Velazquez’ buffoons and a portrait by El Greco and would frequently say “My masters were Velázquez, Zurburán, Ribera, El Greco and Goya” (Ignacio Zuloaga (1870-1945), exh. cat., 1991, p. 135). The painterly incorporation of tonal harmonies and the subject matter of La Iglesia de Maluenda clearly owe a debt to these masters, especially the rare landscapes of El Greco (fig. 1).
The first owner of the present work was Esther Slater Kerrigan, the heir to the Slater mill fortune. Her grandfather was W. Morris Hunt, an American painter, and her great uncle was the architect Richard Hunt, who constructed the Vanderbilt houses on Fifth Avenue in New York. She divorced diplomat Sumner Welles in 1923 and married Joseph Kerrigan, a banker and diplomat, a year later. Their vast and wide-ranging art collection – including works by Vincent van Gogh, Egyptian antiquities, and numerous works by Zuloaga – filled the rooms of 53 East 77th Street, New York, a Spanish-medieval type home. Zuloaga first painted Ms. Kerrigan's portrait during his visit to the United States in 1924-25, a photograph of which was reproduced in Vanity Fair in November 1925. She acquired Victims of the Fiesta (1923, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) from the 1925 Reinhardt exhibition in which La Iglesia de Maluenda was also included.