Published on December 17th, 2016 | by Zuzanna Stanska
8 Things Everyone Should Know About Joaquín Sorolla
Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida was a Spanish painter whose style was a variant of Impressionism. His best works, painted in the open air, vividly portray the sunny seacoast of Valencia. He is famous of dexterous representation of the people and landscapes under the bright sunlight of his native land and sunlit water.
The painting you see above is a piece very typical for Sorolla. Charming, isn’t it? As winter is in a full swing, Christmas is coming let’s leave this cold weather and turn to warm Sorolla’s masterpieces. Here are nine things everyone should know about this great Spanish artist:
1. He had a sad childhood
Sorolla was from a poor family and was orphaned at age two – his parents probably died from cholera. Joaquin with his sister were thereafter cared for by their maternal aunt and uncle. Luckily, his artistic talents were quite visible and he received his initial art education at the age of 9 in his native town.
2. He was talented from the early beginning
Sorolla displayed an early talent and was admitted to the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia at age 15. After further studies in Madrid, where he vigorously studied master paintings in the Museo del Prado we went to Rome and Paris. Then he returned to Valencia. Initially, he painted historical and social realist works, one of which, Another Marguerite (1892), was his earliest success. The painting was awarded a gold medal at the National Exhibition in Madrid, then first prize at the Chicago International Exhibition, where it was acquired and subsequently donated to the Washington University Museum in St. Louis, Missouri.
3. He painted his family often
In 1888, he married Clotilde Garcia del Castillo, who soon bears him 2 daughters and a son. His family became quite a popular theme in his oeuvre.
4. For the first time in art history he painted children with polio
A great turning point in Sorolla’s career was marked by Sad Inheritance (1899). This extremely large canvas depicted crippled children bathing at the sea in Valencia, under the supervision of a monk. The polio epidemic that struck some years earlier the land of Valencia. The painting earned Sorolla his greatest official recognition, the Grand Prix and a medal of honor at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, and the medal of honor at the National Exhibition in Madrid in 1901.
After this painting Sorolla never returned to a theme of such overt social consciousness.
5. The turned to Impressionism
In 1906 Sorolla exhibited for the first time at the galerie Georges Petit in Paris, one of the main impressionist galleries. It was a resounding success and helped establish Sorolla’s international reputation. The show included nearly 500 works, early paintings as well as recent sun-drenched beach scenes, landscapes, and portraits, a productivity which amazed critics and was a financial triumph. Recently Museo Sorolla in Madrid opened the exhibition “Sorolla and the Paris Years” which demonstrates how he created a surprising, innovatory style in late 19th-century Paris. The exhibition will be opened until March 19th, then it travels to Kunsthalle Munich.
6. He became a star in United States
In 1908 Sorolla met philanthropist and collector Archer Milton Huntington, who made him a member of The Hispanic Society of America in New York City, and invited him to exhibit there in 1909. The exhibition comprised 356 paintings, 195 of which sold. Sorolla spent five months in America and painted more than twenty portraits.
7. He was commissioned to paint monumental murals
The Hispanic Society of America commissioned him to paint decorative scenes for its library in New York City depicting life in the various provinces of Spain. It took Sorolla seven years, from 1912 to 1919, to complete the series which left him exhausted. He suffered a stroke in 1920, which left him paralyzed on his entire left side and unable to work. He died three years later at the age of 60 in his home.
8. There is a museum of his name
In 1932 in artist’s house in Madrid was turned into a museum, now known as the Museo Sorolla. This typical Spanish house from the first half of the 20th Century was his home and workshop for the last 11 years of his life. His family turned over his estate to the Spanish State, which decided to convert it into a museum showcasing his many paintings and personal belongings (sculptures, letters, textile, furniture, etc.) which the painter collected throughout his life.