Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hanging at Sorolla's Studio

One of the treats in Madrid was that our hotel was a two minute walk from the home and studio of Impressionist painter JoaquĆ­n Sorolla. It's a beautiful little villa with a garden courtyard in an elegant neighborhood in Madrid. And for a few days, we were neighbors!

We were traveling with a group of folks who were not familiar with the work of Sorolla but when I mentioned that he is considered the Spanish John Singer Sargent - they were hooked!

Once again, here is an artist whose volume of work inspires. He was prolific, often repeating a subject to explore different effects and creating hundreds of paintings each year, many quite large!

Viewing dozens of his studies together was exhilarating, not to mention paintings hanging all the way to the ceiling,

It's easy to see the love that Sorolla had for his family, frequent subjects in his paintings. His figures are painted with sensitivity and tenderness, without becoming cloyingly sweet.

My Wife and My Children, by Sorolla 1897
BTW, his home is gorgeous even without the artwork. Like Sargent, this artist actually thrived during his lifetime!

He surrounded himself with beautiful furnishings, object d'art and light (the ceilings must be 15-20ft!)

So, I'm thinking I could paint like a master if I just had some of that gorgeous crockery!
(employing the magical thinking of a young nephew who once cried, "I know I could make a rocket if I just had enough metal!!!" He is now a software designer for a major tech company.)
Still life, anyone?

If you want some Sorolla in your life - and who doesn't - you can have "Las Tres Hermanas en la Playa" at auction at Christie's London for about $4,000,000. Remember, it's an auction, so start bidding!

On Auction June 15 at Christie's 19th C European & Orientalist Art, London
Or you can visit the Hispanic Society of America in New York where there are 14 enormous Sorolla murals portraying regions of Spain. Or the Met... or the Prado, or nearly any major museum.

Sorolla once said, “Go to nature with no parti pris. You should not know what your picture is to look like until it is done. Just see the picture that is coming."

Fisherwomen from Valencia by Sorolla
I get that, although it's more a plein air mindset and just about opposite of how we still life-ers think. We tend to, first, envision the story we want the painting to tell. In the end, though, I think it's the same thing - don't paint what you see so much as what it says to you. 
Sorolla has also said, "As far as outdoor work is concerned, a studio is only a garage; a place in which to store pictures and repair them, never a place in which to paint them."

Hmmm, my studio literally is a garage. Oops.

Thanks for joining me on my art journey.


  1. MMph, this post makes me wanna hop the next plane to Madrid and check it out. Love Sorolla, fantastic post! Thank you!

  2. Thank you.
    You should go!!! It was an awesome trip. And while you're there take a side trip to Toledo - my new favorite place - its a walled medieval city and there are even some AirBnB places with centuries old decorative border painting on the walls! I'm hoping to go back there for a month someday.


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