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The biography of Joaquín Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla was born in Valencia, Spain on February 27, 1863. For most of his childhood, Sorolla lived with his maternal uncles because at the age of two, he was orphaned. It was their uncles, who adopted them, who encouraged Sorolla to paint.


Sorolla's First Paintings


Sorolla worked for his uncle as a locksmith and at the same time, he learned the art of drawing under the sculptor Cayeano Capuz. In 1878, at the age of 15, Sorolla entered the San Carlos School of Fine Arts in Valencia. It is here where he completed his training as an artist. From his youth he was also interested in painting in the open air (en plein air), with which he tried to capture the Mediterranean luminosity, both in the Valencian garden and on the beach, just as the French Impressionists did at that time. His pictorial work is also characterized by the constant vocation to innovate. He never stopped investigating new plastic solutions: long and wide brushstrokes, of watery, pasty paint, delicate lights and very defined shadows.


The Sorolla Awards at the Prado Museum


Three years later, Sorolla traveled to the Prado Museum where he made copies of Velázquez, Goya, Ribera, and El Greco. In 1884, he obtained his first awards. He won the second place medal when his painting "El Dos de Mayo" entered the National Exhibition in Madrid. "El Dos de Mayo" is a historical painting. With his painting, "El Grito del Palleter", he obtained the scholarship of the Pensionado in Rome. During the four years that he is in Italy, Sorolla paints themes of Spanish History, Religion, and local colors. Also in these years, he meets Jules Bastian-Lepage. Lepage, a great French painter of the time, has a great influence on Sorolla's work. It is Lepage who introduces his "plenirista" theories to Sorolla. Plenaryism is a style of art that describes life in all its color.


In 1888, he married Clotilde García de Castillo. In 1900, Sorolla painted the picture, "After the Bath". This painting marks another period for Sorolla. This period is characterized by maturity. At this point in his art, Sorolla sees himself as an impressionist. In 1910, Sorolla returned to more common themes such as the sea and the life of the fisherman.


The beginning of the Exhibitions


Sorolla went to numerous exhibitions where he won many awards for his art. He achieved great success in his work thanks to his remarkable discipline and tenacity. In the years that he was winning awards, Sorolla met Henry Huntington, director of the Hispanic Society of New York, in London, 1908. Huntington gave him, in 1911, the most important commission of his life. He offers to paint the walls of the Library of the Hispanic Society. Sorolla decorates the walls, with a series of panels, on the different Spanish regions. The panels are between three and three and a half meters high. The importance of these panels is that, in them, Sorolla offers a great vision of Spain. These panels were not finished until 1919.


In addition to this, he received commissions to decorate some palaces that were built in Stgo. From Chile. He also made portraits of Chilean families, such as Rafael Errázuriz.

In 1920, Sorolla suffered one more attack of hemiplegia that prevented him from painting again and three years later, Sorolla died at his home, Coliti de Cercedilla, in Madrid on August 10, 1923.