During the 19th century ·1808-1898·, after the Independence War, Spain declined socially and politically. Neither the government nor the citizens were able to overcome the consequences of defeat.
Pessimism increased in following years.
Illusions of false glory, political disability, widespread decadence and loss of international recognition, was the sad reality of Spain,
unable to react.
Against this dramatic situation, a group of intellectuals, writers, philosophers, journalists, poets and artists, founded the group
“GENERATION of 98”, whose essential mission was "to renew Spain".
Azorín, Pío Baroja, Ramiro de Maeztu, Miguel de Unamuno, Antonio Machado, Valle-Inclán, amongst others, were the outstanding intellectuals of this group.
Zuloaga was the painter of the "GENERATION of 98", since he represented in his work the literary spirit and the critical essence from the most recognized intelectuals of "Black Spain".
The great picture "Mis Amigos" · 1920-36 ·,
Z Collection, became the portrait of the "GENERATION of 98", including its main members, as well as certain personal friends.
The polemical "ZULOAGA MATTER" deserves a special comment.
At the beginning of XXth century, Zuloaga took part in the selection of spanish artists for the Biennale di Venezia, ·1905·, he portrayed notable aristocrats and bourgeoises, succeeding greatly with his compositions, landscapes and portraits.
The language of his paintings and the success of his exhibitions in Europe and America shocked Spanish critics and politicians.
Since the middle of XIXth century, Modernism and other styles and movements succeed in the north of Europe.
Manet, Degas, Monet, Rodin, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Toulouse Lautrec, Munch, Kandinsky, Matisse, Picasso and others, represented the different tendencies that transformed plastic arts between XIX-XXth centuries.
Zuloaga knew most of them, exposed with several and had friendship with some, but he continued on his way based in painting "emotion, style, simplification, character, composition".
He looked for the psychology of human race,the line, the arabesque, his simplified personal vision, the force of presumption, fantasy and invention.
He generally used three or four tones in his palette, trying always the "chiaroscuro".
Black, grey hues, ochres, earth tones, sienna color, cadmium red and "El Greco’s” green.
"Painting and drawing with emotion and simplicity, the soul".
Historians and intellectuals of his generation and today,
agree in considering El Greco as "The painter of Zuloaga". Of the Cretan he said: "When my idol" died, he lost the reputation he had in life and in consequence, the artistic value of his work too".
Zuloaga re-discovered El Greco, after being forgotten for so many years, and had the chance to acquire two extraordinary works, that were the most valued and indisputable pieces of his collection.
“La visión de San Juan”, purchased in Córdoba ·1905·, during a trip to Toledo and Andalucía with his friend, Auguste Rodin · MET Collection, NY ·.
“San Francisco recibiendo los Estigmas”
· Rome 1570 · Tempera on panel · Signed ·
· Z Collection ·
Velázquez, influenced him by his impressionist and poetical colors, the atmosphere of his pictures, as well as the strength and energy of his figures.
Zuloaga admired Goya and essentially "the magic of the environment" in his paintings of "Black Spain".
The basque painter acquired in 1915 the birthplace of Goya, in Fuendetodos.
The painter was not an artist adapted to prevailing fashion or styles. He only accepted relative influences, because he was "the painter of race and land, who indulged with character, emotion and the strength of his drawing and painting".
The Basque painter rejected academicism, the influence in his freedom and submission to official guidelines.
Unamuno wrote an essay on Zuloaga where he featured: "the Spaniard sees better than he thinks, and if he thinks well what he sees, he does not see what he thinks".
Zuloaga painted scandalously as he showed Spanish sadness.
He developed his painting in his studios of Paris, Sevilla, Segovia, Madrid and Zumaia.
He was self-taught, lonely, sincere, shy, proud and generous.
He lived and painted as he wanted.
He was what he desired to be.
Ignacio Zuloaga c.1919
Ignacio Zuloaga´s Historical Collection c.1921
Personal card c.1900-24
Saint Jame´s Chapel c.1921
Still life c.1625
Juan van der Hamen y León