Joaquín Sorolla, 1863-1923

Joaquín Sorolla was born in Valencia. He and his sister were ophaned when he was two, when both parents died, probably of cholera. He was brought up by an aunt and showed early talent as a painter.

After completing his military service and study in Madrid and Rome, he lived in Paris, where he came into contact with modern painting.


Joaquín Sorolla, Autoretrato, 1909, oil on canvas, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain


Joaquín Sorolla, Autoretrato, 1904, oil on canvas, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain

In 1888, Sorolla returned to Valencia to marry Clotilde García del Castillo, whom he had first met in 1879, while working in her father’s studio. They had three children.


Joaquín Sorolla, Retrato de Clotilde, 1891, oil on canvas, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain


Joaquín Sorolla, Clotilde sentada en un sofá, 1910, oil on canvas, 178 x 107 cm, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain


Joaquín Sorolla, Mis hijos, 1904, oil on canvas, 107 x 176 cm, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain


Joaquín Sorolla, Mi esposa y mis hijas en el jardín, 1910, oil on canvas, Private Collection

He bgan to make his name through his depictions of social problems of the day, including the treatment of prostitutes


Joaquín Sorolla, Otra Margarita, 1892, oil on canvas, 129 x 198 cm, Washington University Gallery of Art, Saint Louis, MO, USA


Joaquín Sorolla, Trata de Blancas, 1894, oil on canvas, 167 x 195 cm, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain

He was  the first artist to draw attention to the epidemic of polio which had ravaged the province of Valencia


Joaquín Sorolla, Triste Herencia, 1899, oil on canvas, 210 x 285 cm, Fundación Bancaja, Valencia, Spain


Joaquín Sorolla, Study for Triste Herencia, 1899, oil on canvas, 40 x 58, Private Collection

His style became freer, and he was able to capture the light of the beaches of the Mediterranean coast, often using his family as models


Joaquín Sorolla, Capturando el momento, Biarritz, 1906, oil on canvas, 62 x 94 cm, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain


Joaquín Sorolla, María en la Playa de Biarritz or Contraluz, Biarritz, 1906, oil on canvas, 63 x 93 cm, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain


Joaquín Sorolla, Paseo a orillas del mar, 1909, oil on canvas, 205 x 200 cm, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain

as well as scenes of daily life


Joaquín Sorolla, La playa de Valencia, 1908, oil on canvas, 50 x 66 cm, Private Collection


Joaquín Sorolla, El baño del caballo, 1909, oil on canvas, 205 x 250 cm, Museo Sorolla, Madrid, Spain


Joaquín Sorolla, Chicos en la playa, 1910, oil on canvas, 118 x 185 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain


Joaquín Sorolla, Idyll, Jávea, 1901, oil on canvas

Early in 1911, Sorolla visited the United States for a second time, and exhibited at the Saint Louis Art Museum and  at the Art Institute of Chicago. Later that year Sorolla met Archie Huntington in Paris and signed a contract to paint a series of oils on life in Spain. These 14 magnificent murals, in the Hispanic Society of America building in Manhattan, range from 12 to 14 feet in height, and total 227 feet in length, dominated the later years of Sorolla’s life.

Despite the immensity of the canvases, Sorolla painted all but one en plein air, and travelled to the specific locales to paint them: Navarre, Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, Elche, Seville, Andalusia, Extremadura, Galicia, Guipuzcoa, Castile, Leon, and Ayamonte, at each site painting models posed in local costume. Each mural celebrated the landscape and culture of its region, panoramas composed of throngs of laborers and locals. By 1917 he was, by his own admission, exhausted. He completed the final panel in July 1919.


Joaquín Sorolla, Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1911, oil on canvas, The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY, USA


Joaquín Sorolla, Castilla or La fiesta del pan, oil on canvas, 351 x 1392 cm, The Hispanic Society of America, New York, NY, USA


Sorolla suffered a stroke in 1920, while painting a portrait in his garden in Madrid. Paralysed for over three years, he died on 10 August 1923.

BT, 3 April 2018, Meeting No 14

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