Still Life with Lobster - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

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Still Life with Lobster

Asarta, Inocencio

Gastiain, Navarre, 28/12/1861-Bilbao, 06/06/1921

Oil on canvas

60.8 x 76.4 cm

I. Asarta (bottom left hand corner)

c. 1905

First decade of the 20th century


Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

The landscapes painted by García Asarta, of which this is a prime example, are wonderful samples of the fish, crustaceans and molluscs from the Basque coast, the raw materials in the livelihoods of the men and women whom the artist portrayed in many of his Costumbrist paintings. Sometimes his passion for the sea and fishing were so keen that he even depicted the sea floor, at least in a few paintings (c.1898-1911, private collection).

In Still Life with Lobster, we find warm colours brimming with nuances and applied with loose brushstrokes, with a palette in ochre and cream tones accented by the red of the lobster, as well as the pink, grey and violet touches of the other animals lying by it. The green of the leaves offers a contrasting tone. The brushstrokes are neat and not very thick, and even though the drawing and attention to lifelikeness are obvious in both the different pieces and the accessory elements, the colour is applied loosely, making the painting extraordinarily alive. The composition, arranged in a diagonal dynamic, gives depth to the surface of the table where the still life is displayed.

This painting can be associated directly with Still Life with Sardines, which dates from 1905, in both theme and aesthetics and composition. For this reason, Still Life with Lobster can be dated from around the same time. This further connects this painting with the world of fishing on the Basque coasts which characterised García Asarta's work during that period. Interested in this genre, he continued working on it at later dates as well. He showed some of his works in different group shows, such as the one held in Tolosa (Gipuzkoa) in 1913, where he presented a number of paintings, including Fish Study, and in 1920, in an exhibition held on the occasion of the Second Congress of Basque Studies held in Pamplona, where he exhibited several still lifes. [Ignacio Urricelqui]

Selected bibliography

  • Guía Artistas Vascos. Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, 2008. p. 42-43.
  • 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. 490-492, n° cat. 109.
  • Gida Euskal Artistak. Bilbao, Bilboko Arte Eder Museoa, 2008. pp. 42-43.
  • Itsasoa artean, itsaroaren artea : Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoko Bilduma = El mar en el arte, el arte del mar : colección del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao, Bilboko Itsasadarra Itsas Museoa-Museo Marítimo Ría de Bilbao, 2010. pp. 25, 73.
  • Guide Basque Artists. Bilbao, Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, 2012. pp. 42-43, n° cat. 18c.