Still Life with Lobster
Gastiain, Navarre, 28/12/1861-Bilbao, 06/06/1921
Oil on canvas
60.8 x 76.4 cm
I. Asarta (bottom left hand corner)
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]
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