Mystery of the Night - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

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Mystery of the Night

Durrio, Francisco

Valladolid, 22/05/1868-Paris, 30/08/1940

Glazed ceramics

21 x 18.5 x 16.2 cm

c. 1900-1905

Early 20th century


Acquired in 2007

As a potter, Durrio was interested above all in exploring the expressive and decorative potential of clays and kiln-fired colours. He first began to pick up pottery techniques at the workshop of potter Ernest Chaplet, where Gauguin also learnt. Durrio got to know Gauguin in 1893, and some of his pieces, including sinuously-lined vases and ashtrays, attracted the attention of Mallarmé and Morice, among a number of Symbolist writers. At the beginning of the century, recently arrived in Paris, Picasso moulded his first pottery sculptures at Durrio's Montmartre studio.

As a vestige of the late Romanticism which marked his early artistic career, Durrio was always interested in the nocturnal celestial bodies (moon and stars) and the zodiac signs. There are two ceramic versions of this same piece with distinct colour treatments. Both notably depart from the typical vase in that the opening is on the side, a signal that the sculptor was trying to separate his work from the utilitarianism inherited from traditional ceramics.

Selected bibliography

  • Pintores y escultores vascos de ayer, hoy y mañana. Bilbao, La Gran Enciclopedia Vasca, 1975. (portada del fascículo 80, como de colección Barandica).
  • Barañano, Kosme María de ; González de Durana, Javier. "El escultor Francisco Durrio, 1868-1940 : epistolario, catálogo y notas sobre su vida y obra", Kobie : bellas artes, n° 5. 1988. p. 163.
  • Francisco Durrio, 1868-1940 : sobre las huellas de Gauguin [Cat. exp.]. Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa-Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2013. p. 162, n° cat. 145.
  • Bilboko Museoaren alfabetoa = El alfabeto del Museo de Bilbao = The alphabet of the Bilbao Museum = L'alphabet du Musée de Bilbao [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa-Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2018. pp. 339, 341, n° cat. 190.
  • Amezaga Massalleras, María. Paco Durrio : viviendo París. Bilbao, Muelle de Uribitarte, 2013. p. 50, il.