The biography of Ignacio Zuloaga Zabaleta (1870 - 1945)

Ignacio Zuloaga y Zabaleta (1870 - 1945) was a Spanish genre and portrait painter noted for his theatrical paintings of figures from Spanish culture and folklore depicting of traditional Spanish characters, including peasants, Gypsies, and bullfighters.

Ignacio was born July 26, 1870, in Eibar, near the monastery of Loyola, in the Basque country near Bilbao, Spain. He was the son of a successful metalworker and damascener Plácido Zuloaga and grandson of the organizer and director of the royal armoury in Madrid.

His father wanted him to be an architect, and with this objective in mind, Ignacio was sent to Rome in 1889, where he immediately followed the strong impulse that led him to painting. Zuloaga was a largely self-taught artist who learned to paint by copying Old Masters of the Renaissance in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Beginning about 1890, he split his time between Paris and Spain. After only six months' work he completed his first picture, which was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1890. Continuing his studies in Paris, where he lived for five years, he was strongly influenced by Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, Auguste Rodin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Despite his contact with these prominent French artists, however, his main influences were the Spanish masters El Greco, Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Goya and Francisco de Zurbaran.

In 1892 Zuloaga travelled to Andalusia, seeking subjects in Spain. Inspired by a visit to the Andalusia, Zuloaga began to focus on subject matter from Spanish culture and folklore, such as bullfighters, peasants, and dancers.

In 1899 he married Valentine Dethomas, sister of his friend, the painter Maxime.

Zuloaga began to achieve international success with the painting “Daniel Zuloaga and His Daughters”, which was exhibited in 1899 and purchased by the French government for the Luxembourg Museum in Paris. About 1907 Zuloaga became a popular society portraitist, an aspect of his career that brought him considerable wealth.

After spending much of his career working in Paris, Zuloaga settled permanently in Spain in 1924. His paintings were exhibited in New York and Brussels, at the Royal Academy in London, in Barcelona at the Argos Gallery, individual exhibition at the Madrid Museum of Modern Art (1941) and others.

He was named president of the Patronage of the Museum of Modern Art in Madrid (1931); presented by President Poincaré, for the many merits favouring France, with the Legion of Honour and awarded the grand prize for painting at the Venice Biennale in 1938.

Two of his canvases are in Luxembourg, one at the Brussels Museum (Avant la Corrida), and one (The Poet Don Miguel) at the Vienna Gallery. The Pau Museum owns an interesting portrait of a lady; the Barcelona Municipal Museum, the important group Amies; the Venice Gallery, Madame Louise; and the Berlin Gallery, The Topers. Other examples are in the Budapest, Stuttgart, Ghent, Poznan, and New York City galleries and in many important private collections.

Ignacio Zuloaga died October 31, 1945 in his studio in Madrid.