The bleeding Christ - Black Spain

Here in this room, you are struck by the size of the painting “El Cristo de la Sangre” or The Bleeding Christ, by Ignacio Zuloaga.

The dark and gloomy aesthetic style contains features that are very real, such as the faces and the Avila landscape, which are symbolically brought together here to portray a kind of mystical religiousness that is so austere as to seem tragic.

The Spanish philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno, said that all the features were taken from real life and that the artist’s role was simply to combine them in a symbolic way.

The faces Zuloaga portrayed are those of rural people, whose lives are spent far from the cosmopolitan atmosphere of big cities and industrial society. He showed them here in an impossible scene. This is typical of the Symbolist movement of the period.

Symbolism came onto the Spanish art scene thanks to a travel book, “La España Negra”, or Black Spain, which was published 1898 and written by the naturalist painter Darío de Regoyos, who summarized and interpreted a set of original writings by the Belgian poet Emile Verhaeren, written ten years earlier during a trip they both made around Spain.

A different movement to French Symbolism, the Belgian version that was practiced in Spain saw traces of the infinite and the transcendence of mankind in the immediate reality perceived by our senses. Another identifiable Symbolist feature of this painting of “The Bleeding Christ” is its Provincialism, or the taste for scenes in which folklore and popular tradition are shown as the repositories of a kind of essence of the nation.

Zuloaga, who did not belong to any particular artistic movement, pursued his fondness for costumbrista scenes, after comparing Parisian Bohemian life with that of Andalusia or Castile. He turned his artist’s gaze back towards Spain, as did many other artists of his generation.

(c) (R) 2012, MUSMon com S.L.