Portrait of my Mother - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

Buy image

Portrait of my Mother

Gal, Menchu

Irun, Gipuzkoa, 07/01/1919-Irun, Gipuzkoa, 12/03/2008

Oil on canvas

100 x 81 cm

Menchu Gal (top right hand corner)


Second quarter of the 20th century


Acquired in 1966

Her approach to the portrait evolved from her early works, where she caught the sitter's likeness using a precise line and putting particular emphasis on volume, to those where the influence of abstract painting prompted her to apply masses of colour with great freedom, using a sketchier line and giving less importance to the drawing. Her family provided her with plenty of models to keep her up to scratch in the genre, but her preferred sitter was undoubtedly her mother, who sat for her on many occasions. Portrait of my Mother is one of the first she painted of her, although over the following decades she came back frequently to this motif, which might be interpreted as a desire to explore the effects of the passage of time on a close relation, which would end with the portrait of her dead body.

In 1959 Menchu Gal received the Spanish National Painting Prize, the first time it had ever been awarded to a woman. (Mikel Lertxundi)

Selected bibliography

  • Gaya Nuño, Juan Antonio. La pintura española del siglo XX. Madrid, Ibérico Europea de Ediciones, 1972. p. 315.
  • Bengoechea, Javier de. Catálogo de arte moderno y contemporáneo del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. Bilbao, Banco de Vizcaya, 1980. p. 55 (Con el título Retrato de una señora).
  • Castañer López, Xesqui. "Iconografía de la mujer en los pintores vascos, siglos XIX y XX", Kobie : bellas artes, n° 2. 1984. p. 111.
  • Menchu Gal : exposición antológica [Cat. exp.]. Donostia-San Sebastián, Ayuntamiento ; Museo Municipal San Telmo, 1986. N° cat. 25
  • Ibiza i Osca, Vicent. Obra de mujeres artistas en los museos españoles : guía de pintoras y escultoras, 1500-1936. Alzira (Valencia), Centro Francisco Tomás y Valiente, UNED, 2006. p. 141.
  • Guía Artistas Vascos. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2008. p. 127.
  • Sala Stvdio, 1948-1952 : una aventura artística en el Bilbao de la posguerra [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2008. n° cat. 55.
  • Gida Euskal Artistak. Bilbao, Bilboko Arte Eder Museoa, 2008. p. 127.
  • Guide Basque Artists. Bilbao, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 2012. p. 126, n° cat. 68.
  • Madrid. p. 269.
  • 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. 189-190, 192-194, 197, n° cat. 106.
  • Menchu Gal : margotzeko bizi, bitzitzen margotu : 1919-2019 [Cat. exp.]. Madril, Menchu Gal Fundazioa, 2019. pp. 80, 256, il. (titulada ”Mi madre”)
  • Menchu Gal : vivir pintando, pintar viviendo : 1919-2019 [Cat. exp.]. Madrid, Fundación Menchu Gal, 2019. pp. 80, 256, il. (titulada ”Mi madre”)