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Salaverría Inchaurrandieta, Elías


Salaverría Inchaurrandieta, Elías
Lezo (Guipúzcoa), 1883 - Madrid, 1952
Lezo (Guipúzcoa), 1883 - Madrid, 1952


Under the patronage of the Marquis of Cuba and his wife, in 1894 he entered the School of Arts and Crafts in San Sebastián, where he was taught by Juan Martínez and Alejandrino Irureta. In 1900, he continued his academic education at the School of Fine Arts in Madrid, with prestigious painters such as Alejandro Ferrant and Moreno Carbonero. But there is no doubt that his greatest influence was his maestro Luis Menéndez Pidal, in whose studio he worked until 1908.

He completed his training in 1909 with a long stage in Paris studying, like many other painters of the time, the innovations of the modern artists, especially Lucien Simon and Henry Martin, sources of inspiration in his later creativity.

His work, within the Basque regionalist current of the early twentieth century, implied a realism approaching instant photography, far from the rhetoric and mysticism of the brushes of Zubiaurre and Echevarría. In this line of costumbrista representation are his “Dinamiteros” (The Dynamite Workers), the image for the UEE calendar in 1928.

He was awarded prizes and distinctions at various collective exhibitions such as in 1903 at the Madrid Fine Arts Circle, and in 1904, 1906 and 1908 at the National Fine Arts Exhibition, where in 1912 he won the top prize for his painting “La procesión del Corpus en Lezo” (Corpus Christi Procession at Lezo), as well as at the Salones del Pueblo Vasco in 1906, 1909 and 1910. On the international circuit he won awards at the Universal Exhibitions of Buenos Aires (1910), Munich (1913) and Panama (1916).

From the outset he became best known as a portrait artist. In 1915 he showed off his skills in portrait painting at the Orfeón Donostiarra, and immortalised the most distinguished personalities, such as King Alfonso XIII (1928) and his wife Queen Victoria Eugenia (1927), as a commission by the Guipúzcoa Provincial Assembly. The same institution commissioned “La ofrenda de Elcano” (Elcano’s Offering) in 1922, to celebrate the IV centenary of the first circumnavigation of the Earth. The image of the disembarking of the Basque sailor was chosen in 1931 by the Bank of Spain to illustrate the reverse side of five hundred peseta notes. And another of his portraits, of Saint Francisco Javier, was used in 1952 by the National Mint to produce a stamp commemorating the fourth centenary of the death of the founder of the Jesuit Order.

Deeply fond of his birthplace, and an adoptive son of the town of Guetaria since 1912, in 1932 he contributed seven works to the inauguration of the San Telmo Museum in San Sebastián. His production notably included Basque religious personalities, such as the beatified Gárate, Saints Ignacio de Loyola and Francisco Javier, or his “Proclamación de la Virgen de Aránzazu como patrona de Guipúzcoa” (Proclamation of the virgin of Aránzazu as Patron Saint of Guipúzcoa) which in 1925 was taken to the Museum of Modern Art in Madrid.

His final years saw a series of triumphs – such as those reaped with his individual exhibitions at the Witcomb gallery in Buenos Aires (1948) and the Spanish Embassy in Montevideo (1949) – as well as appointments – he was named professor at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving in Madrid in 1934, and a member of the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1944.

Devoted to mural painting since 1946, he died in an accident when working on the ceiling restoration in the Church of San Francisco el Grande in Madrid.

According to Mario Antolín Paz, president of the Madrid Art Critics’ Association, "...He was an extraordinary portrait artist, who nevertheless achieved his greatest success on the canvases of historical, popular and religious themes. His austere use of colour and his excellent drawing skills amply offset the theatrical concept of some of his compositions".


Work

1928, Salaverría Inchaurrandieta, Elías

Dynamite workers
Oil on canvas
61x36 cm.




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