Mateo Inurria was a Spanish sculptor from the city of Córdoba who was an extremely individual sculptor, whose works tended to have a naturalistic style. Besides being a sculptor, Inurria also flourished in the domains of teaching, restoration and decorating.
Mateo Inurria was born in Córdoba which was the city in which he would also spend a lot of his time. Until 1883, Inurria attended classes in Córdoba at the School of Fine Arts. Here he also received artistic training from a variety of noteworthy Spanish artists such as Lorenzo Coullaut Valera and Rafael García Guijo. Once he finished his studies in Córdoba, Mateo Inurria then went to study in Madrid at the 'Escuela Especial de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado' (Special School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving) from 1883 until 1885. Following this, Inurria received a grant which enabled him to continue to study in Madrid, at the Fine Arts Academy of San Fernando until 1890.
In 1890, Mateo Inurria put his work, 'Un náufrago' (A Castaway), on display at the 'Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes' (National Exhibition of Fine Arts). 'Un náufrago' (A Castaway) was a sculpture of a naked man which was produced in a very realistic style and was made out of wood.
For the rest of his life, Inurria lived and worked between the two cities of Madrid and Córdoba between 1891 and 1901. Mateo Inurria received many commissions from both cities, especially to commemorate famous people from the local areas. In 1895, Mateo Inurria won the Second prize at the National Exhibition for his sculpture of Lucio Anneo Séneca, a sculpture completed in the Realist style. During this time, Mateo Inurria developed himself into a teacher and restorer as well.
In 1896, Inurria took a trip through France and Italy where he studied the ancient masters of the art of sculpture. In these countries, Mateo was exposed to the sculpture in the Classical, Medieval, Renaissance, Egyptian and Byzantine styles, amongst many others.
This trip helped develop Mateo Inurria's style significantly, helping it to surpass academic sculpture. His sculptures were created in a Realist style with a sober element to it. He tried not to idiolize his subjects, but rather he tried to portray them naturally with soft expressions. Inurria was also a highly talented at modelling, as can be seen in his work 'La edad de bronce' (The Bronze Age).
The famous French sculptor, Rodin, came to visit Spain with his friend Ignacio Zuloaga, the Spanish painter. Inurria took the opportunity to get to know the French sculptor by acting as his tour guide on his visit to Córdoba in 1905.
After being the head of the department of Figure Modelling and Ancient Drawing at the Escuela Municipal de Artes y Oficios de Córdoba (Municipal School of Arts and Crafts of Córdoba), Mateo Inurria was made the Director of the 'Escuela Superior de Artes Industriales de Córdoba' (Higher School of Industrial Arts of Córdoba). In 1911, Inurria was made a professor of the School of Arts and Crafts in Madrid as well. The 1900s were also the time when Mateo Inurria began judging sculpture competitions and exhibitions at the National Exhibitions of Fine Arts in Madrid.
With all his commitments in the Spanish capital, Inurria finally settled there in 1911. Here we would focus a lot more of his attention on his sculpture, beginning his next stage of sculpture by concentrating on the nude female form. In the female body, Inurria found an idealist yet sober naturalism, perfection, eroticism and sensuality. His works of the female body include 'Deseo' (Desire), 'Forma' (Shape) and 'Ídolo eterno' (Eternal Idol), some of which can be found in the Reina Sofia Art Museum in Madrid.
Aside from his naked women sculptures, Mateo Inurria also produced many religious sculptures too. These include 'Cristo del Perdón' (Christ of Forgiveness) and 'San Miguel' (Saint Michael) for the 'cementerio de La Almudena' (Cemetary of La Amudena) in Madrid and 'Cristo flagelado' (Scourged Christ) for the town of Guernica.