Submitted by and date: Sarah Banks - February 2017
Building bridges has been a theme in Bilbao since the iconic Guggenheim Museum rose among the blackened buildings of this once industrial city—from the elegant bridges that link to the museum to dazzling exhibits that expose this northern corner of Spain to great art. On a long holiday weekend/or bridge, I meandered through crowds of children climbing on Chillida sculptures to the Bellas Artes Museum to see an impressive retrospective on the work and mutual influences of Zamacois, Meissonier, and Fortuny. Eduardo Zamacois was a local lad, tragically for the art world dead at 30 in 1871. A student of the brilliant French painter Meissonier and fellow traveler with the Catalan Fortuny, Zamacois’ mastery of watercolor was breathtaking. The beautifully curated show seduced with exotic scenes of southern Europe and North Africa, voluptuous still lifes and didactic history paintings. France and Spain after the Paris Commune, on the cusp of the Franco-Prussian War, in the midst of the French and Spanish exploits in North Africa—they recorded it all in oil, pen and ink, gouache, watercolor. And I left feeling I’d crossed a bridge to an almost forgotten era.