Sorolla, light of Spain
'The Horse's Bath'. Sorolla Museum
Painting: Mujeres en la Playa. Sorolla Museum
Interior of the Sorolla Museum in Madrid
"The painter of light". This is how Joaquín Sorolla, one of the main figures in the history of Spanish art and one of the most internationally famous painters of his time, is known. Because this artist was able to capture light and movement in his paintings like none other. You'll find rural landscapes, fishing customs from the Mediterranean coast, social scenes, portraits... They have all got something in common: warmth and sensitivity that will engage your senses. What landscapes inspired this genius? Where can you find his main artworks? Come with us on this pictorial journey along clear waters, gardens, explosions of colour: "Sorolla's Spain".
Valencia, where he was born The best way to understand Sorolla is to travel to Valencia. This unique painter was born in 1863 into a humble family and trained at the Fine Arts School. A stroll along the beaches in the area (and in other towns in the Region of Valencia, such as Jávea) will help us understand the reflections and the combinations of blue and white hues that painter managed in scenes of women on the beach, children playing, fishermen… The ones he made of El Cabañal beach are very well known. "The Young Yachtsman" and "The Horse's Bath" are some examples. How about visiting the museums where you'll find some of the artist's paintings? We recommend visiting the Valencia Museum of Fine Arts and the House-Museum of José Benlliure. The Valencia Institute of Modern Art (IVAM) and the Bancaja Cultural Centre have also held important exhibitions on the artist. Close by, in the Museum of Fine Arts in Castellón, you'll also find his works. As for monuments, go to the chapel at the old college of San Pablo (Lluis Vives Institute), which the Valencian painter immortalised in "El patio del instituto" or in Valencia's cemetery, where you'll find Sorolla's grave next to those of other important figures such as writer Blasco Ibáñez.
Madrid, his family house If the warm Mediterranean sun was one of the factors that had the greatest impact on Sorolla's work, another factor was his visit to the Prado Museum (one of the most important museums in the world) when he was only 18. There he discovered Velázquez's paintings, which defined his way of seeing art. Sorolla currently has a place of honour in the museum, next to his master - there are several of Sorolla's paintings hanging in the Prado Museum, like "Boys on the Beach". This museum organised an anthology on Sorolla in 2009 (as part of a travelling exhibition around various cities in Spain) which was a resounding success and proved that many people are fascinated with his work. But in Madrid there is a very special corner where you can discover the artist's true essence - Sorolla Museum. You can't miss this old family residence that was turned into a museum following the wishes of his widow. On entering you'll leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind; you'll imagine the staircase that models used when posing for the artist; you'll hear the trickling of the fountains in the garden… and above all, you'll see some of Sorolla's best-known works: "The Gardens at the Sorolla Family House", "Clotilde Seated on the Sofa", "Self-portrait", "The Pink Robe. After the Bath", "Strolling along the Seashore", "The Bathing Hour, Valencia", "My Children", "Fifth Avenue, New York"; "The Siesta", "Mother", etc. You can also visit the San Fernando Royal Academy of Fine Arts (where there are some of his works), and the town of Cercedilla, near Madrid, where Sorolla died in 1923. All over Spain As well as in these two important places in Sorolla's life, his works can be found in many towns in Spain. The painter started studying gardens in Andalusia. In the south of Spain you'll be able to visit the Malaga Museum, Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga and the Museum of Fine Arts in Cordoba, where there are some of his paintings. And don't forget Seville (which he depicted in "Palace of Pond, Royal Gardens in Seville", for example), or Granada, a city that impressed him after seeing the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Alhambra. In the north of Spain you can go to the A Coruña Museum of Fine Arts or the Vitoria-Gasteiz Museum of Fine Arts. In fact, Sorolla was very interested in the rough Cantabrian Sea. We see this in "On the Breakwater, San Sebastián", and "Under the Awning, Zarauz". Where else can we find Sorolla's paintings? The Murcia Museum of Fine Arts, the Greco Museum in Toledo and the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts in Tenerife are some examples. There is no denying that Sorolla knew Spain very well. In 1911 New York's Hispanic Society asked him to carry out a mural painting with Spain's provinces. Today it is known as "Vision of Spain". For this, the painter travelled around the country for almost eight years to get to know the costumes and customs of each area. But however much we tell you about this great 19th century artist, you won't live the full experience unless you come and see his paintings for yourself. Discover Spain, Discover Sorolla's work and enjoy the colours of the Mediterranean. Let the light surround you. Because almost 90 years after his death, he has become a true classic. Because, as Huntington (the North American Hispanist who commissioned the panels for the Hispanic Society) said "he has taken his painting theory to the limit and will live on because of that".