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Women in the Arts and Letters in Navarre (3). The first generation of women painters in Navarre

07/11/2022

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Diario de Navarra

José Mª Muruzábal del Solar :: José Mª Muruzábal del Solar

Art Historian

Diario de Navarra, in partnership with the Chair of Heritage and Navarrese Art of the University of Navarra, addresses, monthly, with the help of specialists from various universities and institutions, aspects on the relationship of women with the arts and literature in Navarra.

It is well known that the presence of women in the history of art has been frankly limited; we have to wait until very late in the 20th century to find women with certain relevance in the plastic arts. The presence of women in the art world was limited, just as their presence was limited in many political, economic and social spheres. Thanks to the elemental sense of justice and equality that is widespread today in our world, this status has been changing. The status of Navarra in this respect has not been different from what has happened in other places and, in many aspects, the full incorporation of women in different fields has been rather late.

Regarding the Navarrese art world, the presence of women in it is quite late. As far as the presence of women in Navarrese painting is concerned, the reason for this work, the 19th century is practically null. We cannot provide any name that had even a minimal relevance. We can assume that, in the mentality of the inhabitants of Navarre at that time, the role of women was focused on other tasks. We have to wait until the 20th century to meet the pioneering women of Navarrese painting, which we will try to present, in a synthetic way, in this work. Some of them have already been treated in the pages of Diario de Navarra, in a monographic way, in those articles that periodically publishes this media.

As soon as we were able to reflect on this matter, we proceeded to draw up a first list of women dedicated to painting, and who had a minimum of renown or activity within it, in Navarre. Since it was necessary to focus the topic chronologically, we thought of women painters born before the Spanish Civil War, that is to say, born before 1936. The list included 15 women painters. Perhaps they are not many with respect to the issue of men dedicated to this activity in the same chronological period; nevertheless, it does not stop being an interesting issue that attests, and demonstrates, the change of paradigm that supposes the feminine incorporation to the Navarrese art. To present 15 women painters in a article, with the limitations of space that we have, was complex; for that reason we have chosen to deal only with the authentic pioneers of our painting, what we could consider as the first generation of Navarrese women painters, limiting their chronology of birth between the end of the 20th century and the year 1915. In this chronological margin we have seven artists. We will leave the rest, the second generation of Navarrese painters, also authentic pioneers, for another occasion.

The first female painters

The first two women to appear in Navarrese painting were born in the last decade of the 19th century. The first of them is Rosa Iribarren (Tudela, 1894 - Madrid, 1958). Her love for painting came from her uncle, Inocencio Ortiz, an amateur painter. He studied at the Dominican Sisters in Pamplona, also taking his first steps in the teaching of art in the academy of the master Javier Ciga. In the early twenties she moved to Madrid to continue her studies programs of study, being a disciple of Cecilio Pla. In 1924 she received an economic financial aid from the DFN, being the first woman from Navarre to obtain this economic pension, financial aid which she maintained between 1924 and 1926. In Madrid she also began her work as a copyist for the Prado Museum, with the help of another Navarrese artist living in Madrid, Natalio Hualde, financial aid . In the competition de Arte del Ayto. de Pamplona, in 1926, he obtained a silver medal for his work Segoviano, which he repeated in the competition de Arte of 1928, with the degree scroll Las Canasteras. One of his paintings, Tiburcio de Redín, is kept in the Palace of the DFN in Pamplona. She never neglected her relationship with Navarra. Rosa Iribarren is an artist yet to be discovered; from the data we have, she devoted herself mainly to figure painting, still life and her work as a copyist at the Prado Museum in Madrid, which is how she earned her living.

The second woman to be highlighted is Karle Garmendia (Oroz Betelu, 1898 - Pamplona, 1983). Given her early artistic inclination, she soon attended the School of Arts and Crafts of Pamplona and the classes of Javier Ciga's academy. After this apprenticeship, in the first part of the twenties, the painter moved to Paris to study. In the French capital she attended courses at the prestigious Colarossi Academy and the School of Fine Arts, being the first woman from Navarre to do so. During her stay in Paris, Karle Garmendia befriended a Valencian artist, Higinio Blat, whom she married in 1926. In the artistic competition of 1926 in Pamplona she obtained the second prize award with the work Silencio. The couple ended up settling in the French town of Pau for about fifteen years. In 1948 they moved to Mexico, specifically to Hermosillo, capital of the state of Sonora. There, Higinio Blat was the founder and first director of the Academy of Plastic Arts of the University of Sonora. Karle Garmendia accompanied him in this endeavor and acted as a teacher at the academy. At the end of 1959, the Blat Garmendia family returned definitively to Spain, settling in the capital of Navarre. This artist left a large body of work, scattered in countless places and collections. Hers was a vital, energetic painting, full of color and expressiveness.

Women painters of the early twentieth century

In the first decade of the century we can add three more names to this list. The first is Adela Bazo (Cascante, 1905 - Buenos Aires, 1989). Her family would soon move to Madrid and Adela studied at the Central University, where she graduated in Exact Sciences. Her artistic vocation manifested itself at an early age. In 1944 the Academy of Fine Arts awarded her the prestigious scholarship Conde de Cartagena, which allowed her to expand programs of study abroad. In 1948 he moved to Buenos Aires, where his relatives lived. In Argentina he devoted himself fully to painting and to giving private painting classes. In 1984 he traveled to Spain with the intention of settling here, but returned to Buenos Aires, where he died. His painting is dedicated to landscape and portrait. The second name to consider is Asun Asarta (Bilbao, 1905 - 1986), daughter of the well-known Navarrese artist Inocencio García Asarta. She started in art at a very young age as evidenced by the magnificent drawing conserved in the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, conference room de mi high school, dated 1922. He began to draw at a very early age and made his first exhibition at the age of 15. He lived all his life between Bilbao and Navarra, where he had decades of relative fame. In fact, her stays in Pamplona, Estella and other areas of this Community were very repeated, so she has always been considered a Navarrese painter to all intents and purposes. She mastered oil, pastel and drawing. Most of her paintings are dedicated to the portrait genre, especially portraits of women.

The third of the women is Francis Bartolozzi (Madrid, 1908 - Pamplona, 2004), who for her aesthetic level deserves a separate chapter; she is, without a doubt, the most outstanding woman in Navarrese art and one of the basic artists of 20th century Navarre. Daughter of the draftsman Salvador Bartolozzi, wife of the painter Pedro Lozano de Sotés from Pamplona and mother of the painter and sculptor Rafael Bartolozzi. She trained in San Fernando de Madrid, where she met Pedro Lozano de Sotés. In the thirties, consolidated as a great artist, she made illustrations for publications, developed the Pedagogical Missions, worked on scenographies and made the well-known drawings of the war for the Spanish Pavilion of the Universal Paris exhibition of 1937. After the war she settled in Pamplona, working with her husband, although on many occasions she remained in the background. From 1944, she collaborated frequently with the magazine Pregón, where she published the first comic of Navarra. She also painted murals in schools, churches and stores. Some of his children's illustrations are especially famous, such as Pinocchio, Pipo y Pipa or El Capitán Trompeta y el Marino Trompetín.

The closing of this generation

Finally, the second decade of the century points out two more names to these pioneers of Navarre painting that we have been commenting. The first is Esther Navaz (Pamplona, 1911 - San Sebastian, 2003). She was the daughter of Mª Ana Sanz Huarte, Director of the Normal School of Pamplona. In her the two professional tendencies of the family are united, the artistic and professor of the Sanz family, and the educational of the Huarte family. Miguel Sanz Benito and Mariano Sanz Tarazona were her great-grandfather and grandfather; her grandmother, Mercedes Huarte y Callís, was director for many years of the high school Huarte of Pamplona. He studied teaching at the Escuela Normal de Pamplona. In 1931 he entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid, where he excelled. In 1939 he moved to his sister Carmela's house in San Sebastian, where he lived until his death, residency program . He made frequent trips to Madrid, as he continued at contact with Vázquez Díaz and other renowned artists, although he was a frequent visitor to Pamplona. Until the fifties, Esther Navaz dedicated herself intensely to her artistic production. From the 1950s onwards, her professional activity was dedicated to Education for children with disabilities. She created a center for students with language disorders in Amara and in 1956 she was appointed delegate of the association of the Deaf of Guipuzcoa. Her dedication to children with disabilities did not end when she joined her place of Drawing in a high school of San Sebastian (1966), nor when she was appointed Professor of Drawing.

The second of these artists is María Teresa Gaztelu (Pamplona, 1911 - 1999). She was a student of the Navarrese painter Javier Ciga. Belonging to the Navarrese high society and nobility, she held the titles of Marquise of Góngora and Marquise of La Lealtad. The Civil War marked her destiny and she became a nurse; during this period she left some well-known illustrations for postcards. She dedicated her work, especially, to the portrait of the Navarrese high society, working with a high level of pastel technique.