(Bilbao, 1873 -  Paracuellos del Jarama, Madrid, 1936)
Painting. Madrid

Álvaro Alcalá-Galiano Vildósola was born in Bilbao in 1873, in the bosom of an illustrious
family, and began his artistic training in 1889 under the supervision of Antonio María and
Adolfo Guiard. In 1892 his family moved to Madrid, where he furthered his apprenticeship with
José Jiménez Aranda and subsequently with Joaquín Sorolla. In the early years of the twentieth
century he would travel in Brittany and Holland, painting seascapes, landscapes and
traditional scenes that soon became his preferred subject matter. These were the years in
which he was awarded several prizes at the international competitions in which he took part.
Alcalá-Galiano played an active role in the artistic and cultural scenes of Spain and the
Basque Country. In 1915 he became president of the Spanish Association of Painters and
Sculptors and in 1925 helped found the Union of Artists in Madrid, the origin of today’s
General Society of Authors and Writers (SGAE). In 1903 he painted the ceiling of the Hall of
the Throne in the Regional Biscayan Government and was the driving force behind the creation
of the Fine Arts Circle and Athenaeum of Bilbao. He went on to hold several important honorary
positions such as Weekly Majordomo of King Alphonse XIII and Member of the Order of Charles
III, and he also possessed the title of Count of Royal Esteem. Under the pseudonym Juan de
Eguía he wrote on artistic subjects and continued to paint tirelessly, displaying his work in
exhibitions until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. After being arrested and imprisoned,
he was finally executed by firing squad in Paracuellos del Jarama (Madrid) on 27 November 1936.
Throughout his career as an artist he explored all pictorial genres, techniques and formats,
and his style could be described as halfway between tradition and modernity. The compositional
balance and perfect modelling of his works are astonishing, as is his use of a dark palette
that nevertheless reveals a certain interest in luminosity.
His contributions and innovations in the field of painting and culture made Álvaro Alcalá-
Galiano a prominent figure in Basque art during the first few decades of the twentieth century.