Era de Panes en Horno Alto. Juan Luna y Novicio. Rialia. Industria museoa

Field of loaves in the Blast Furnace

Field of loaves in the Blast Furnace. Oil on canvas by Juan Luna y Novicio, 1893

text by Amaia Barrena García

If one could travel to a painting in this one, you would land without going through customs, without the proper boots that you would need to walk on the floors filled with lava puddles. Suddenly you would be surrounded by men, fighters without trenches, fighting a fight known as the workers’ fight. They are just bodies on Death’s payroll, sentencing their organs to a life sentence in exchange for a salary that would allow them to survive in a city of ash and progress. They are not to blame. Maybe some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouths, but there are also those who live from the crumbs the first ones drop on the floor. There are those who would do anything because of their hanger. Somewhere a master would talk to them about the iron and steel industry, about progress, about the future. They can barely hear him with the roaring machines that melt the iron, that create energy, turning the stony son of nature into a multiform mineral. A stone had never been so fertile. Many men break their backs in the mines to get the raw material; many a childhood is sold for a salary carrying buckets of water. After all, in times when fire extinguishers were not yet born, being a water carrier in this hell was as important a job as the doctors to whom they had no access. If one could travel to a painting, they would find themselves by a boiling drain, next to trails of liquid fire herded by workers with their clothes stuck to their skin and articulations, with tiredness frozen on their expression and sacrifice as their second skin. If a painting could transport you, you would be landing on the land of the furnaces of History.


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