The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Acquires Paret’s ‘View of Bermeo’

Posted in museums by Editor on July 18, 2017

Luis Paret y Alcázar, View of Bermeo, 1783
(Bilbao: El Museo de Bellas Artes)

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The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum presents View of Bermeo of 1783 by Luis Paret y Alcázar (1746–1799), acquired from the heirs of José Luis Várez Fisa. The painting has been obtained with an interest-free loan thanks to the sponsorship of BBK, to be repaid over the following years with the contribution from the Friends of the Museum.

In addition to its undoubted artistic value, View of Bermeo of 1783 is of enormous historical interest given that it is considered the first work in a series of paintings depicting the ports of Cantabria and is the first view of the Basque Country painted by this artist from Madrid. Born in the same year as Goya, Paret led a storied life, resulting in his banishment, first to Puerto Rico and then to Bilbao, which prevented him from maintaining his prominent position at Court, a fact that to some extent favoured Goya’s professional success. At that point the Basque Country had almost no artistic tradition, for which reason the presence of a painter of Paret’s importance can be considered a remarkable artistic event and one that was decisive for its artistic and cultural evolution.

View of Bermeo is one of the most outstanding works of 18th-century Spanish painting and can be considered the first surviving modern and purely artistic image of a location in the Basque Country. This oil, which is in excellent condition despite its delicate copper support, perfectly combines a carefully devised composition and setting with an exquisite, detailed finish. Paret presented the scene as a social encounter in which he dignified local people and customs, offering an unprecedented visual record in the context of the Basque Country. The panel was painted in 1783 for the future Charles IV, son of Charles III and at that date Prince of Asturias, possibly with the aim of facilitating the end of Paret’s banishment which was imposed on him in 1775 due to his involvement in the dissolute life of the Infante don Luis, younger brother of Charles III. Paret’s imposed exile was finally repealed in 1785. The artist conceived the work as a pair to another view of Bermeo (present whereabouts unknown) in which he depicted the port during a squall.

The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum has thus increased its holdings of the work of Luis Paret y Alcázar, and its collection now includes View of El Arenal in Bilbao, 1783–84; Scene of Villagers (fragment), 1786; View of Fuenterrabía (fragment), 1786; The Triumph of Love over War, 1784; The Virgin with the Christ Child and Saint James the Greater, 1786; The Holy Shepherd, 1782; and the recently acquired View of Bermeo, 1783.

More information about the painting and the artist are available here»

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