Villager from Bakio - Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

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Villager from Bakio

Guiard, Adolfo

Bilbao, 10/04/1860-Bilbao, 08/03/1916

Oil on canvas

127 x 76.2 cm

a guiard (bottom left hand corner)


Last quarter of the 19th century


Acquired in 2019

Apart from its intrinsic interest as a work of art, Villager from Bakio is an important painting in Guiard's career because of the controversy surrounding it in the local press when it was presented to the public in a gallery on a Bilbao street known as calle Correo. The story of the controversy is told by art historian Javier González de Durana in an essay on the painter published by the Museum and the Caja de Ahorros Vizcaína savings bank in 1984. As González de Durana tells it, four days after local writer Nicolás Viar publicly praised the painting in 1888, the poet Antonio Trueba responded with a bitter criticism of the Impressionist style of the work. The debate dragged on and eventually even Miguel de Unamuno got involved. Although everybody agreed on Guiard's masterly drawing, his use of subtly harmonious colour ranges of great atmospheric effect was the subject of heated debate amongst critics and art lovers in general.

Art critic Juan de la Encina pointed up the painting's importance in 1921: "The Villager from Baquio Ramón de la Sota owns is a milestone in the painter's artistic development, as it is here where we find plein airin his painting for the very first time; the villager who stops to take a breather from his work, with his sharp features, leaves an impression of quiet dignity".

Villager from Bakio (1888), Harvest (c. 1892, deposited by a local private collection at the Museum in 1999) and Keeping a Promise (acquired by the Museum in 2008), all belonged to distinguished shipowner Ramón de la Sota. Harvest portrays a group of people at work in the marshlands of the river at Gernika. Keeping a Promise is a landscape with three country people who have stopped for a moment. Before them is a basket containing the two candlesticks and white cloth used in funeral rites. The three works are a compendium of the best of Guiard's style, with masterful drawing and a palette dominated by greys and blues distributed in delicate ranges to create a powerfully atmospheric effect.

Finally, these three paintings were all restored between May and November 1947 in Paris by painter Julián de Tellaeche, who was also entrusted with the task of buying the carved wooden frames that the two works in the Museum still have today. (Miriam Alzuri)

Selected bibliography

  • Zugaza Miranda, Miguel. Euskal margolariak Aurrezki Kutxen bildumetan I = Pintores vascos en las colecciones de las Cajas de Ahorros I. Bilbao, Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa; Gipuzkoa Donostia Kutxa; y Vital Kutxa, 1993. p. 40.