© José Gutiérrez Solana. VEGAP, Madrid, 2022


The Ossuary
José Gutiérrez Solana
Oil on canvas
Printed area size: 215 × 163 cm
Measures with a framework: 223 × 170 cm
Signed in the lower right corner
Born: Madrid, 1886
Died: Madrid, 1945

© José Gutiérrez Solana. VEGAP, Madrid, 2022


When José Gutiérrez Solana began his career around 1905, symbolist painting had already dealt with the subject of death abundantly and—particularly in northern Europe—had recovered the macabre medieval dances as a symbol of the unrest and vital anguish that prevailed in the spirit of the turn of the century. Within this genre, it is important to note artists such as Edvard Munch or James Ensor, among others.

This canvas seems to be based on some of the photographs of the Ossuary of Palermo that circulated during the painter’s life and signified a turning point in his career. In contrast to other works by Solana—full of figures that accentuate the violence that is associated with death—in this case the painter offered a more relaxed concept underlined by the scene’s distance from the viewer. The monks prepare and lay out the deceased with the same ease and fluidity as the barbers and groomers did with their clients in other works by the artist. They all belong to the same world.

Osario [Ossuary] was on display at the Venice Biennale of 1932 and later in Paris and Pittsburgh. In 1938 it was sold to a French collector. This painting was incorporated into the Fundación MAPFRE Collection in 1991, along with the rest of artist’s works that are preserved at the institution.


© José Gutiérrez Solana. VEGAP, Madrid, 2022

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