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Exhibition of Spain’s Impressionist, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, opens at the National Gallery in spring 2019

(People's Daily Online)    17:25, January 30, 2019

Sorolla Spanish Master of Light (18 March – 7 July 2019)

The first major exhibition in the UK for over a century of the artist known as Spain’s Impressionist, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863–1923), opens at the National Gallery in spring 2019. The exhibition “Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light (18 March – 7 July 2019)” will include portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes of Spanish life, as well as the landscapes, garden views, and beach scenes for which he is most renowned.

The display will feature sixty works spanning the artist’s career, including important masterpieces on loan from public and private collections in Europe and the US. This will be the first UK retrospective of the artist since 1908 when Sorolla himself mounted an exhibition at London’s Grafton Galleries where he was promoted as The World’s Greatest Living Painter.

While it was his sun-drenched depictions of the life, landscapes and traditions of Spain, as well as his gifts as a portraitist, which sealed his fame, Sorolla, who trained in Valencia and studied in Madrid and Rome, first won an international reputation for major works tackling social subjects. For the first time in the UK a series of these prized early social paintings will be brought together including his The Return from Fishing (1894, Paris, musée dOrsay), which was bought by the French government and Sewing the Sail (1896, Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Galleria Internazionale dArte Moderna di Ca Pesaro, Venice), which was acquired by the city of Venice. Also displayed will be Sad Inheritance! (1899, Colección Fundación Bancaja, Valencia) kept in the Church of the Ascension on New York’s Fifth Avenue for over fifty years until it was returned to Spain in 1981.

One third of the paintings in this exhibition will come from private collections and another third will be generously lent by the Museo Sorolla, one of Madrid’s most dazzling small museums, which occupies the house and garden Sorolla designed and built for his family. The Museo, now a Spanish national museum, was created following his death from bequests by the artist’s family.

With his health failing in June 1920, Sorolla ceased painting and died on the 10th August 1923. There are few paintings by Sorolla in UK public collections, yet the work of this spirited and technically-gifted painter relates to the National Gallery’s collection of Spanish Old Masters, Velázquez and Goya, and the work of Sorolla’s contemporaries across Europe, including Sargent and Monet.

Christopher Riopelle, curator of Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light, says: “Sorolla was an exceptionally gifted painter. His ability to capture life and movement, often out of doors and on a grand scale, remains impressive. His pictures radiate the dazzle of sunlight on water, the heat of a sultry afternoon and the force of a stiff sea breeze. Compositionally daring, his increasingly high-keyed use of colour suggests an awareness of developments in modern art. But as an artist, he always remained committed to painting Spanish life in all its complexity.” (Tianxing Bai) 

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