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Ignacio de Iriarte

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Painter, b. at Azcoitia, Guipuzcoa, in 1620; d. at Seville, 1685. Iriarte was the son of Esteban de Iriarte and Magdalena Zabala, and received his early education at home, but in 1642 went to Seville, and entered the studio of the elder Herrera. Here he learned to understand colouring, but he was never able to draw the human figure with spirit or accuracy, and therefore determined to devote his attention exclusively to landscape, and was the one Spanish artist who walked that rarely trodden path, and obtained in it the greatest possible celebrity. In 1646 we hear of him as residing at Aracena, near to the mountains, and there it was that he married Doña Francisca de Chaves, but his first wife lived a very short time, and in 1649 he married in Seville his second wife Doña Maria Escobar. He was an original member of the Academy of Seville, its first secretary in 1660, and again secretary from 1667 to 1669. For very many years, he was the intimate friend and associate of Murillo, who praised his landscapes very highly, and on many occasions the two artists worked together, Murillo executing the figures, and Iriarte the landscape. In consequence, however, of a dispute with reference to a series of pictures on the life of David, this division of labour came to an end, and the two painters, both of them men of great determination, decided to work separately and not in conjunction. Murillo painted the whole of the picture representing an episode in the life of David, and Iriarte contented himself with his exquisite landscapes, as a rule wild and rugged scenes, somewhat allied to those of Salvator Rosa, in which at that time he was the greatest exponent. There is a landscape preserved at Madrid in an unfinished condition, with the figures merely sketched in by Murillo and the background left incomplete by Iriarte, and this is said to have been left incomplete at the time of the quarrel. The painter has been called the Spanish Claude Lorraine, and Murillo declared that his best landscapes were painted "by Divine inspiration ", but the comparison and statement are not accurate, as there is a forced character and an imaginary romance about Iriarte's landscapes with an extraordinary lack of atmosphere. They are, however, pleasing and attractive, although rare. His works are to be found principally in Madrid, but can also be studied in the galleries of St. Petersburg and the Louvre.


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