Great Events - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

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Great Events

Guinea, Anselmo. Circle of

Bilbao, 1855/04/01-Bilbao, 1906/06/10

Ink for nibs

26,8 x 20 cm


19th century. Last quarter


Donated by Michel Mejuto Alonso, 2007

The winners of the Provincial Exhibition of Bizkaia were announced in late August 1882 in an elegant ceremony held in the auditorium of the Instituto Vizcaíno. In it, Guinea excelled by winning one of the top awards for painting: the Gold Medal for his Jaun Zuria Swearing to Defend the Independence of Biscay .

The painter heard the good news when he was in Subiaco, a town in Lazio located 73 kilometres east of Rome and often visited by Spanish artists in the spring and summer. That may have even been where painted the panel that was presented the following May in Bilbao, A Festival Afternoon in Subiaco, about which no description remains. Might this small oil painting be related to the festivals he experienced in the town during those Glorious Events?

This amusing souvenir sketched by his friends parodies his winning the medal and his reaction to the news. Based on the documentation we have, it is impossible to know what members of the Spanish art colony helped make the drawing, although several different hands can be discerned. In one of the depictions of Guinea, whose profile is reminiscent of his self-caricatures, he is equipped with a huge palette and is climbing a pole that symbolises the exhibition, at the end of which the prize is hanging: a double gold medal for naval merit in the shape of a tambourine. There are also allusions to a banquet in which champagne flowed and to overall enthusiasm in the guise of a musical band and a group of authorities celebrating the triumph around a wreathed bust of the artist. (Mikel Lertxundi)

Selected bibliography

  • Dibujos, grabados y acuarelas [del] siglo XIX : de Goya a Benlliure : colección Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2007. pp. 184-187, n° cat. 252.