In the Country - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

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In the Country

Echenagusía, José

Hondarribia, Guipuzkoa, 01/02/1844-Rome, 31/01/1921

Oil on canvas

80.2 x 57 cm

J.Echena (bottom left hand corner)

c. 1894

Late 19th century


Deposited by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia in 1998

Echena was a distinguished member of Rome's artistic circles. He exhibited works regularly at the shows organized by the Società degli Amatori e Cultori delle Belle Arti, the Associazione degli Acquarellisti and the Associazione Artistica Internazionale, of which he became the president in 1902. Nevertheless, he never forgot the Basque Country and visited Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa virtually every year, leaving examples of his ability in decoration, including the regional council headquarters, called palacios, of both provinces. He also took part in exhibitions there. In 1894, for instance, he was awarded a prize at the Art Exhibition of Bilbao for In the Country, which is part of his production that casts a friendly eye, perhaps at times even a little too friendly, on moments of leisure in contemporary Rome. In this work, we see a young lady on an excursion into the countryside to paint, palette in hand, a view of the Roman campagna. Although 19th-century painting abounds in portrayals of women painting, Echena distances himself here from the more usual vision, which tended to show the women as dilettantes for whom the actual practice of painting was little more than a social grace. Here, the naturalness of the central character confers on her a certain nobility, suggesting that she may have been a real artist, probably his mistress, the painter Emma Rossetti. [Mikel Lertxundi]

Selected bibliography

  • Llano Gorostiza, Manuel. Palacio Provincial [de Vizcaya]. [Bilbao], Diputación de Vizcaya, 1976. p. 63 y relación final de obras depositadas en el Palacio Provincial. ( Con el título Paisismo en Roma).
  • Emakumearen irudia : bestelako begiratu bat = La imagen de la mujer : otra mirada [Cat. exp.]. Vitoria-Gasteiz, Diputación Foral de Álava, 2003. p. 30.
  • Guía Artistas Vascos. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2008. pp. 29-30.
  • Gida Euskal Artistak. Bilbao, Bilboko Arte Eder Museoa, 2008. pp. 29-30.
  • De Goya a Gauguin : el siglo XIX en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2008. pp. 317-319, n° cat. 61.
  • Guide Basque Artists. Bilbao, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 2012. pp. 29-30, n° cat. 11b.
  • Arte japonés y japonismo [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa-Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2014. pp. 61, 63, il.
  • Fornells, Montserrat. Gipuzkoako pintore erromantikoak = Pintores románticos guipuzcoanos [Cat. exp.]. Donostia-San Sebastián, Kutxa Fundazioa = Fundación Kutxa, 2013. pp. 50-51, 79, 121.