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José Gutiérrez Solana (Madrid, 1886-1945)

Outdoor Festival in the Pradera de San Isidro

ca. 1933


Oil on canvas, 104 x 159.5 cm


Signed at the lower right corner “J. Solana”

Solana regularly participated in the outdoor saints’ day festivals and fairs typical of Madrid, which took place in San Antonio la Florida, las Ventas and the Pradera de San Isidro. He recreated and combined these experiences on canvas as well as describing them in detail in his writings:

“Below, on the broad stretch of the Pradera, [we see] the smoke arising from the vats of the dough sticks, and the clouds of dust from the galloping horses and the mule-pulled trams, which arrive crammed with people, the roundabouts, swings, roller coasters, and food and drink stalls. The Acal wine shop serves portions of tripe and snails. One hears the merry shouts of the women who get on the swing; couples line up for Spanish dances [...]”

In Outdoor Festival in the Pradera de San Isidro Solana depicts a crowd comprising a wide variety of people whom he arranges into different groups of a haphazard, slightly baroque nature that create the sensation of a great multitude.

The artist presents the festival as if it were a snapshot, giving it something of the feel of a stage set through the way in which the different images are distributed. This is a type of composition that he particularly enjoyed devising and which he unified and structured through the palette of ochres that gives his works their typical atmosphere.

Solana neither narrates nor describes the scene but simply presents it as if seen through the eyes of someone taking part in one of Madrid’s traditional fiestas at this period.

María José Salazar