Women Dressed in Grey
Santander, 09/09/1864-Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, 21/06/1924
Oil on canvas
86 x 99.5 cm
F. Iturrino (bottom right hand corner)
20th century. First quarter
Contributed by the Provincial Council of Bizkaia in 1926
A painter and engraver, Iturrino was trained in the late 19th century in Brussels and Paris, in touch with authors and art trends that rejected naturalism and its objective depiction of the model. His work centres on a handful of painting motifs -landscapes, portraits, groups of women, nudes- and although he worked within the confines of Post-Impressionism, certain aspects of his painting -his bold use of light and colour, the expressiveness of his brushstrokes, his compositional liberties and, in general, his disinterest in the conventions of painting- also bring him closer to the contributions of the Fauvist avant-garde. He was a friend of Derain, Picasso and especially Matisse, with whom he travelled through southern Spain in 1910 and Morocco in 1912, and whose influence, along with Cézanne's, is perceptible in some of his mature output. His work garnered early recognition in France, where he held regular shows (Salon des Indépendants, Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Vollard gallery, etc.) until 1911, when a special gallery was devoted to him at Paris's Salon d'Automne. In 1919, the year of his first solo exhibition in Madrid, he also participated in the International Painting and Sculpture Exhibition of Bilbao. Likewise, in 1926 the museum hosted a major posthumous exhibition of his works, which allowed many of them to be added to its holdings, including this painting.
The depiction of the female body -either clothed of nude, resting or in motion- is one of the most original aspects of Iturrino's oeuvre. His earliest groups of women, almost always depicted over backgrounds of gardens or the countryside, date from the early 20th century. Compared to other artists from his era, he was not interested in portraying either the characteristic or the picturesque, and even though early in his career he painted scenes with Costumbrist themes set in Salamanca and Andalusia -where he spent long periods of time working- virtually his entire oeuvre revolves around colour and its expressive and decorative power. In Women Dressed in Grey, the figures occupy almost the entire compositional space; they are portrayed next to a pool and in the quiet of a leafy garden, only the barest details of which are given. In an ordinary, carefree way, they seem concentrated on their conversation and removed from the eye of the painter, whose passion for colour is softened here by his use of primarily light tones, although the greenish patch of the water, the yellowish tones of the vases located on the edge and the bright red of the girls' hair add sensorial interest to the composition. Delicately grey-hued, the dresses attract Iturrino's attention, as he enjoys the decorative rhythms of the flounced skirts, the billowing sleeves and the transparencies which reveal glimpses of the female body. (Miriam Alzuri)
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