Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Sorolla and a Velazquez compared

Above is a Velasquez, The Drinkers. Below is a closeup of the men's heads from the right of the painting.

Below is a series of studies by Sorolla that show his emulation of Velazquez.

Sorollas work has a rougher somewhat bolder look, but the work of his Spanish predecessor guided him. Here are some things they have in common.
  • A simplified palette of black, ocher and a red.
  • A restraint of modeling in the lights. That is the lights are modeled softly and clearly and cleanly separated from the darks.
  • The head in the middle of the Sorolla is very similar to the head at the far right in the upper painting by Velazquez. It is so similar that it seems obvious to me that Sorolla must have taken it for a model. Notice the handling of the zygoma. the upturned eyes and the slightly open mouth.
  • The shared interest in the rough faces of men who are drawn from the working class and worn from work .
  • The use of black throughout the painting and the strong contrasts throughout the pictures.
  • Visible brushwork that boldly explains the form of the heads.
  • An elegant restraint of color coupled with exuberant drawing and bold relief of the heads and the forms within them.
  • A look of observation rather than idealization.
  • Both are painted pretty much alla prima, that is rather than built up indirectly in glazes over a careful line drawing below.


Ramon said...

I've seen and copied portions of both paintings at separate times and never noticed the striking similarity between those two heads!

That's super cool, thanks for bringing that up Stape. Here's a higher res version of the Sorolla


PS. Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

two of the painters i love... so good to have your comparison and analysis of their work.

billspaintingmn said...

I see those similarities also. The influence is obvious.
At the MIA there is a Goya I've admired always. I see a similarity of the Goya and the two men in this painting.
The man holding the bowl, and his friend with his hand on his shoulder.
In this painting by Velazquez, these men look happy and healthy.
In the Goya, it is a self portrait
of himself being nursed back to health by his friend.
The similarities are so striking I have to mention it.
(That background sky seems to be blue. Is it black that appears blue
or did he use blue?)

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you and hi there Ramon.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. It is intimidating writing on painters of this caliber and about so much has been recently written. I hope I am bringing a painters perspective to this as I am certainly not an art historical scholar or doing original research.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That is a good question. I would just guess that it is black, but I don't know for sure. Perhaps an astute reader does?

ko said...

I noticed a similar resemblance between Valasquez's Baccus and Caravagio's