Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sorolla 2

Here are pictures that show Sorolla as a mature painter. His often huge paintings glow with tremendous light and are full of color. I am going to throw out a brief bio of Sorolla tonight. Some of you are very highly trained painters who know this stuff already, but others who read the blog are not. I want to make sure that those who haven't been exposed to Sorolla know who he was. If they haven't seen his art they must be pretty wowed.

images from

Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) Orphaned as a small child and raised by his aunt and uncle studied art in Madrid, at the Prado then at the Spanish Academy in Rome. He then moved to Paris and feel under the spell of Bastien LePage, remember, I showed you one of those of Joan of Arc about a week ago.
He returned to Madrid and gradually became the most recognized of Spanish painters winning prizes at the salon and garnering important portrait commissions, of which he was not terribly fond.

The painting above, Sad Inheritance won the Grand Prix and a medal of honor at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900. This made him internationally famous and freed him to do the kind of work he really wanted and an example of this is below. He became a painter of regional Spanish scenes. Often these were huge and painted on location. Sometimes he painted outside on canvasses so large they had to be secured with stakes and guy lines like a circus tent.

Sorolla painted a portrait of then President Taft at the White House in 1909. He also painted King Alphonso of Spain in 1907. The Hispanic Society in New York commissioned Sorolla to paint a series of enormous plein air paintings of the 14 regions of Spain. The paintings together were over 220 feet long. They are on display there today. This major commission occupied the last of his productive career and were finished in 1919. After their completion the exhausted Sorolla suffered a stroke in 1920, paralyzed, he died three years later.


Sakievich said...

Those Sorolla murals at the HSoA are one of the best kept secrets of NYC. And definitely worth the ride up to 155th street and Broadway to check them out. As well as the 3 or so Velazquez portraits and the large number of Sorolla portraits in their library. Also, they're very simple and lenient about their copy policy there. I spent a week's worth of Saturday's doing a copy of Portrait of a Little Girl by Velazquez.

Dot Courson said...

Love Sorolla. I alerted my hubby to the book and the told him that if he was "looking for a Christmas present for me"... and ta dah! ...just got in a book from Barnsite Gallery which carries a lot of great books.
It's titled "Joaquin Sorolla" by Blanca Pons-Sorolla, his granddaughter. It's supposed to be my Christmas present but can't keep out of it! (BTW-Barnsite has lots of hard to find books. I got the one that had large fold-out poster size prints of Sorolla last year.)
I also got another David Curtis (an English dude) book -one of my absolute favorite contemporary painters! Do you know his work?

Dot Courson said...

My apologies. I should say that David Curtis is an English GENTLEMAN- not a "dude". Very gentle, seemingly.
I probably should also say that that particular book came from Amazon- not Barnsite Galley.

jeff said...
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jeff said...


Here is is again, I hope this works...

billspaintingmn said...

I'm the first to admit I'm not a highly trained painter.
But I love art! I love the feeling of seeing a painting for the first time.
I admire and am wowed by this painter Sorolla. He put the wind in my hair and the sun in my face.
I feel crippled like those boys at the beach. Sorry

JonInFrance said...

Hey Dot, you can get D. Curtis video/DVD workshops. Don't you want to go down that route, Stape?

Dot Courson said...

Jeff - Great link/article on Sorolla's technique and colors. Thanks.
JohnFrance- Thanks. yeah, I have one of Curtis's oil videos. Seems I remember Stape knows him/ has already mentioned him briefly.

Anonymous said...

The first painting in your post, Tuna Catch, Ayamonte, is one of my absolute favourite paintings and you might like to see a slightly better reproduction of it on a web site I set up dedicated to Sorolla at
The painting, which measures a staggering 3.5m by 4.8m (including the extra bit at the top that Sorolla seems to have added as an afterthought - you can see the join just about the wooden rail), was painted in 1919 and was the last of the monumental and exhausting Huntington commission for the Hispanic Society.
I saw the original in Madrid a couple of years ago and would certainly cross the pond to New York just to have the chance to stand in front of it again.
I love painting light (and also like the work of David Curtis as well as UK artists such as Ken Howard, Peter Brown and Aldo Balding)and one day am determined to try a painting at the sort of scale of some of Sorolla's canvases - although I will probably do it in my studio rather than on a beach or beside a canning factory!
Best wishes from a very cold France.
Iain (Vellacott)

Tim said...

If Im not mistaken Dot, Stape and Mr Curtis where roommates when they both studied under Ives Gammell.

I had the good fortune of being able to go to the massive Sorolla Show that the Prado orgainsed last year. It was booked solid, adn you couldnt get a ticket for love or money, as some of my friends experienced fisrt hand when they arrived. What was very strange though, was that at Sorollas museum and house, there was scarcely a soul. We had it all to ourselves, and where even allowed to paint in his garden! I have put up some photos on my blog from the trip here. Stape, feel free to remove the link if you feel the need to.


What was interesting with the show was that he was constantly pushing his own envelope of style, experimenting and trying new things (not always in his favor) but he did it anyway, something to be admired for sure, to never stay in your comfort zone.

Debra Norton said...

Stape, I appreciate so much the art history you present here! I spent four years at an atelier; we had a great library, regular lectures, and occasional museum trips. But I was so focused on the learning process I have to say I didn't absorb as much history as I would have liked. So thanks for continuing my education!

JB said...

I am a beginner painter and long time reader of this blog. I finally have a useful comment I can contribute. The American David Curtis is a Gloucester, MA artist and fine teacher. He teaches a drop-in plein air class on Saturdays which I guess is something of a tradition on Cape Ann. I first learned of him through Stape and it one of many things that I have learned from Stape that I am very grateful for. I got a lesson from David this morning as a matter of fact. He’s taking a break for a couple of weeks but his class will resume sometime mid January in Essex, MA. He has a website at if anyone is interested in checking him out. I’m sure the English dude is a fine fellow too and maybe Stape knows him as well.

Tim said...
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Tim said...

JB, are you saying this isn't the David Curtis you are talking about? (and that i thought was an old roommate to Stape)

This guy is AMAZING

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wish I had the time to go and do that!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I do know David Curtis the Englishman.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have a feeling it didn't work!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Sorolla was pretty much forgotten except by a few painters until recently.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I would perhaps, but I am too busy to make one. I can't keep up with my workload now.I think I could make a good one though.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Lotsa logistics there. The biggest I have ever painted outside was 36 by 48.
I did that on an ordinary Gloucester easel out in west Texas. It was plenty big.

Stapleton Kearns said...

There are two David Curtis'es, I know the American version. I know of the English dude.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Good, I am delighted to be useful.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It is a Cape Ann tradition. Anyone who wants a good weekly landscape lesson should check that out. David is a patient and well informed teacher.