La tertulia del Café de Pombo (The Gathering at the Café de Pombo)

  • Date: 
  • Technique: 
    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 
    161,5 x 211,5 cm
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Observations: 
    Entry date: 1988 (from the redistribution of the Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo [MEAC] collection)
  • Register number: 
  • Donation of Ramón Gómez de la Serna, 1947
  • On display in:

La tertulia del Café de Pombo (The Gathering at the Café de Pombo) is José Gutiérrez Solana’s most iconic work, an example of the artist’s great love of the intellectual meetings so common in the first third of the 20th century in the best known Madrid cafés: the Nuevo Levante, the Universal, the Candelas and, above all, the one that gives the painting its name, the Pombo.
The picture, donated to the Spanish nation by Ramón Gómez de la Serna in 1947, had been shown at the 1st Autumn Salon of Madrid, held in October 1920 in the famous Madrid café from which it takes its name in the Calle de Carretas. Later it became part of Gómez de la Serna’s collection.
The protagonists of the painting are some of the most outstanding intellectuals of the time: Manuel Abril, Tomás Borrás, José Bergamín, José Cabrero, Gómez de la Serna (standing, in the middle of the picture), Mauricio Bacarisse, Solana in self-portrait, Pedro Emilio Coll and Salvador Bartolozzi.
The compositional layout of the famous painting repeats some elements of other Solana works: stark light and shadow, frontality and hieraticism in the treatment of the figures, and the semi-circular arrangement around the central figure. The mirror appears in its role as a magical element, through which reality and fiction become confused, as occurs in other pictures by Solana. The picture’s drawing concept, the abundance of matter and the prevalence of sombre tones are other features of this famous group portrait.

Paloma Esteban Leal