Sorolla, Impressionist extraordinaire

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Not visiting the Prado Museum when in Madrid is almost a sacrilege. But with limited time on my hands, I opted to spend a day at the intimate Sorolla Museum instead, and I don’t regret it for a minute. Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida  (1863 – 1923) was a Spanish painter of exceptional talent and ambition. Following an inspirational visit to Paris at the age of 23, Sorolla aspired to become an international artist. He exhibited in Paris, Munich, Berlin, Vienna and Venice and the prizes followed one after another. Is it any wonder?

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His larger-than-life, light-filled canvases fill the Sorolla Museum, which was actually the artist’s home and studio. Located in the heart of Madrid, Sorolla’s house and grounds would provide fertile inspiration for any artist.

The sun-drenched, butter yellow facade, scattered statuary and inner courtyards with tiled fountains are peaceful and romantic, a welcome surprise. Sorolla’s studio is a soaring, book-lined, wood-paneled space. I was assured that every item in the studio is original.

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Sorolla’s brushes
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View of Sorolla’s studio

A contemporary of John Singer Sargent, Sorolla was lauded for his ability to capture intense light with the flick of his loaded paintbrush. Below are some of his magnificent canvases followed by a close-up detail, so that his impressionistic genius can truly be appreciated. The size of his canvases fits right in with the modern appetite for oversized artwork.

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The Sail Menders (222cm x 300cm)
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Detail from The Sail Menders

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Detail from painting above. Note the impressionistic brushstrokes, unexpected colors and areas of exposed canvas.

Sorolla QUOTE

Sorolla was a family man. One of my favorite paintings on exhibit portrays his wife lying in bed with an infant she just gave birth to. I love the composition – those two tiny little heads in a huge sea of white linen…

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The artist’s enormous collection of Spanish pottery added to my overall enjoyment. At every turn, the house revealed gorgeous examples of decorated ceramics.

I will conclude this post with a sketch I made of a stair banister detail in the Sorolla home. And if anyone can provide me with any information on how large paintings were internationally transported in the 19th century, I would be much obliged!

SOROLLA SKETCH

For your next visit to Madrid, more details about the Sorolla Museum can be found here.