Mal tiempo. Holanda

Itsasmuseum has received the temporary loan of the work Mal tiempo. Holanda by Álvaro Alcalá Galiano (Bilbao, 1873-Paracuellos del Jarama, Madrid, 1936) as part of the program The Invited Work, signed by the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and Itsasmuseum Bilbao. This is the fifth received on loan by this institution since 2018 and it does so at a very special time, as May 21, 2023 marks the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth.

In the painting, Bad Weather. Holland (c. 1902, oil on canvas, 72.7 x 91.4 cm), which entered the museum’s collection in 1916 thanks to the artist’s own donation, the author depicts a Dutch scene that explains the international artistic interest that existed at the end of the 19th century in the Breton and Dutch world, which offered a more exotic, less bucolic and picturesque view of coastal life, a trend very present in the artistic production of the Bilbao painter who, at the beginning of the 20th century, became one of the most interesting contributions to Basque painting of the time.

Author and work

Álvaro Alcalá Galiano y Vildósola began his training in Bilbao with Antonio María Lecuona and Adolfo Guiard, and from 1890, when he moved to Madrid, he was a disciple of two great artists: first José Jiménez Aranda and, from 1893, of Joaquín Sorolla. During his beginnings the costumbrista themes of Bizkaia were very present in his work, in which the influence of Anselmo Guinea in the composition and the handling of color can also be recognized.

In 1900 Alcalá Galiano undertook an artistic trip to Brittany and Holland, which he would repeat in the following years. The works resulting from this trip were exhibited two years later, in 1902, in his Madrid studio. Among the selected works was Mal Tiempo. Holland, a representation of the port of Volendam, in the Netherlands, in which Alcalá Galiano combines several of the characteristics that can be seen in other of his northern port scenes, such as the taste for gray inks and leaden skies, the backlights that cut out the figures of the fishermen and the silhouettes of the boats, as well as the elegance of the sinuous line of the sails and their reflections.

During this period he began to paint decorative works in institutional buildings such as the Palace of the Provincial Council of Bizkaia (1905), the Palace of Justice (1924) and the Ministry of the Navy (1926-1928), in Madrid. He alternated this activity with several exhibitions in Europe and South America, becoming one of the most important Basque painters of the time. He was executed in Madrid during the Civil War.