The House Museum of Joaquín Sorolla opened to the public on Tuesday a large exhibition with 227 paintings of small dimensions of the Valencian painter. It is about "notes, spots or notes of color" in which the Valencian painter captured his first look at a subject -it will take him or not later to a larger format-, as well as the kitchen work and
of your production. The exhibition thus discovers the most spontaneous and intimate facet of the artist.
The unique sample is titled
Hunting impressions. Sorolla in small format
. It is curated by the art historian and specialist in the author María López Fernández, along with Blanca Sorolla-Pons, the author's granddaughter, and Consuelo Luca de Tena, director of the museum. It will remain open until next September 29.
Sorolla produced about 2,000 of these small format oil paintings, which is an important part of a work of about 4,500 pieces
The works, whose size does not exceed 20 X 30 centimeters, they are always related to some of the major jobs that the painter was doing at all times, explains María López. But only a few of them can be considered preparatory studies. So the sometimes tiny paintings assembled here, executed on canvas, board or cardboard, can almost always be seen as finished creations. Only with the added value of revealing what the classics called the "prime idea" of the painter.
In part of these oils, the willingness to study or essay on some element or formal aspect of what Sorolla was carrying, whether the density of the shadows on the beach, the light reflection of the waves with sun or with clouds, or the perspective of the hull of a ship seen from within ... Other times, however, it is difficult to see or intuit something beyond what appears to us as a small surface paint but large in quality.
We know that all these compositions were carried out by the artist "in very short sessions, less than an hour, without hesitation or regrets, "says López. What, seeing the results, gives more proof of the virtuosity and the great drive of the painter.
A constant in his career
The painter cultivated this formula throughout his life: as a student in Valencia, a bohemian in Paris and a consecrated artist who frequented the beaches of the Mediterranean and the Bay of Biscay.
Prolific man, Sorolla produced around two thousand of these small format oil paintings, which is an important part of a work of about 4,500 pieces. He cultivated this formula throughout his life: as a student in Valencia, as a bohemian in Paris and as a consecrated artist who frequented the beaches of the Mediterranean and the Bay of Biscay.
The exhibition on the Paseo General Martínez Campos in Madrid is organized in chronological order. In this way we can appreciate the different value and the changing usefulness that Sorolla gave to his miniatures in the different stages of his career
In addition, in each of the rooms there is a large photograph of some places where he hung a certain number of those paintings: his workshop in Madrid, turned into a meeting place and exhibition, an exhibition in New York, another in Paris ...
Although he often painted them for himself, for the pleasure of making them, Sorolla dedicated many of these pieces to family gifts, courtesy attentions and presents to colleagues or close friends. But not a few of them included them in large exhibitions and sold them at a good price. Well, they were not minor works.
It is true that in the artistic environments where he moved, the size of the paintings mattered. The prestige and money were obtained with what was called big machines, continues María López. But also the "notes" could be quoted very well. The practice was not then a new thing, much less despised. Not only had a certain tradition, from Tintoretto to Constable through Rubens or Goya, but it was in full bloom.
Along with the memory of Goya's notes, Sorolla's Spain had very fresh examples of Mariano Fortuny and Eduardo Rosales. The two left a good number of sketches, oil notes and small-format works highly valued in the Valencian era because they "seemed to enclose the teachings of both artists," says the curator.
The "notes of color" of Sorolla could also enclose a key learning for the author. Or serve as a partial or general guide for a larger work. Or become an object of reminder of a special moment. Thus, in one of the small oil paintings on display we can see the menu of a meal targeted by the artist himself.
The show includes a showcase with some of the special tools and utensils that the painters of the time were given to go out and work in contact with nature: metal tubes, then relatively new, a folding pallet and a "box" of notes ", this last device that became an emblem of outdoor painting. The invention had two parts joined by metal hinges: a lower one that served as a palette and container of colors, with a space for small brushes, and another upper one that allowed to hold the small board where it was painted. Everything necessary to "hunt impressions".
If there is some truth in that the best essences are stored in small jars, the exhibition that has just been opened at the Sorolla Museum proves that the essentials of art also fit into summarized spaces.