Santander, 1864 - Cagnes-sur-Mer, 1924
Francisco Nicolás Iturrino González, son of Miguel Iturrino of Motrico (Vizcaya) and Joaquina González of Santander, was born on 10 September 1864. In 1872 his family moved to Bilbao, where in 1879 he began to receive drawing classes at an academy and from his uncle, the musician, poet and painter Elviro González. In 1882 he completed his higher secondary studies at the school run by the Augustinians in Bilbao.
In 1883 he settled in Liège (Belgium) to study engineering, which he soon abandoned in order to devote himself to painting. In 1890 he moved to Brussels, where he struck up friendship with the painter Henri Evenepoel. There he met his Flemish wife Marie Joséphine Delwit Schwartz, who bore him six children and whom he married in Cordoba in 1906. In 1895, the year Ambroise Vollard staged the first exhibition of Cézanne’s work at his gallery, Iturrino went to live in Paris. He joined the atelier of Gustave Moreau as a pupil, where he met Matisse. In 1898 he began to lead a nomadic lifestyle, a characteristic that would subsequently pervade the whole of his life. He divided his time between Paris and long stays in Salamanca, Seville, Cordoba, Motrico, Malaga and Madrid. In 1910 he met up with Matisse in Seville to accompany him on a trip to Morocco during the winter of 1911–12. In 1920 he showed the first symptoms of gangrene, as a result of which his leg was amputated the following year, and further surgery was required subsequently, plunging him into a precarious financial situation. With the help of Élie Faure – who in 1922 organised an exhibition to raise funds for him at the Galerie Rosenberg in Paris where paintings donated by his painter friends were shown alongside works of his from the collection of Ambroise Vollard – he retired to Cagnes-sur-Mer in the south of France, where he died in 1924.
Iturrino exhibited his work at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in Paris (1901), the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1902) and the Salon d’Automne (1903, 1904, 1905, 1906 and 1911). In 1901 he showed his work alongside Picasso at the gallery of Ambroise Vollard, who sold his work and organised solo exhibitions for him in 1902, 1907 and 1911. It was Picasso’s first exhibition in Paris.
In Brussels he took part in the exhibitions of the Libre Esthétique organised by Octave Maus (1902, 1905 and 1914). He participated in the Exhibitions of Modern Art in Bilbao (1902, 1903, 1905 and 1910) and showed his work with the Association of Basque Artists (Bilbao 1915, Barcelona 1916 and Madrid 1917), as well as at the Galerías Layetanas in Barcelona (1915, 1917 and 1918). The Circle of Fine Arts in Madrid held a major solo exhibition of his work in 1919 and that year the International Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture in Bilbao devoted a special room to him showing forty of his works.