"Sphynx" - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

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Durrio, Francisco

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

Glass ceramics

30,4 x 29,3 x 63,2 cm

c. 1907-1909

20th century. First decade


Donated by Flora Pié, 2012

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.

One of Durrio's first proposals for the Monument to Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga was to craft it partly of ceramic, taking this material out of household interiors and restoring it for architecture and urban exteriors. To do so, he partnered with Daniel Zuloaga, but the idea was frustrated even before Durrio stopped construction on the monument in 1914. This sphinx remains as a sample of that test.

Selected bibliography

  • Francisco Durrio, 1868-1940 : sobre las huellas de Gauguin [Cat. exp.]. Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa-Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2013. p. 164, n° cat. 147.