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Sorolla. Hunting Impressions

December 21, 2022 - March 5, 2023


The exhibition is organized by the Palau Martorell in collaboration with the Sorolla Museum and the Museu Sorolla Foundation.


Sorolla. Hunting for Impressions is curated by Blanca Pons-Sorolla and María López. It consists of a total of 193 small-format oil paintings on panel, cardboard or other materials belonging to the Sorolla Museum collection.

Throughout his life, Joaquím Sorolla came to paint nearly two thousand oil paintings on cardboard or small tables. He called them "notes", "stains", or "color notes".

This format was increasingly used throughout the 19th century by great artists, since it allowed to quickly collect ideas or impressions of things seen in independent Works that went beyond a simple sketch. Initially considered intimate works, unfinished products of the painter's work, creative

freedom was soon appreciatedand they began to be exhibited and quoted as samples of the most personal and original of the artist.


Sorolla used them on occasion to rehearse compositions, but often as a mere exercise. He kept them in his study, pinned to entire walls; However, he soon began to frame them, and in all his exhibitions these little paintings had an abundant and prominent presence.


Small in size, but big in boldness, they contain bursts of Sorolla's brightest.

The exhibition includes these pieces painted by Sorolla throughout his entire artistic career, divided as follows:




After his formative years in Valencia, Sorolla settled in Rome as a pensioner from the Spanish Academy

(1885-1889), and from there he traveled to Paris, where the artistic scene in the French capital left him stunned.

From the year 1890, installed in Madrid with his wife, he began to appear in major competitions in Spain

and abroad.

In 1903, when he finished the great painting Sol de tarde, Sorolla considered that he had definitely found his

own style.

His first notes show the influence of Fortuny and the Italians both in the composition and in the way of expressively using the areas of wood that he leaves unpainted.

Small format works serve as preparation for more ambitious compositions; but they gradually gain independence with respect to large-scale works: Sorolla he uses as a parallel, experimental instrument and, above all, as a way of looking and converting the essence of that look into painting.




The exhibition at the Georges Petit Gallery, Paris, 1906

In 1906 Sorolla presented his first monographic exhibition in Paris, at the modern and prestigious Georges Petit gallery. Then he has already taken a decisive turn towards the themes that offer him the greatest seductions and visual challenges: the variations of light throughout the day and the seasons, the color of the shadows, the reflections and transparencies of the water, the backlights, the chromatic audacity. And he finds in its wide spaces of the sea and the beaches the richest setting.

In that exhibition there was a wide representation of his small formats, which acquire enormous importance as support for his eagerness to experiment in these years.


After the exhibition, Sorolla spends a few weeks in Biarritz, where the scenes of the leisure of the elegant on the beaches provide him with new stimuli. The palette is clarified and refreshed, and the frames acquire a maximum of photographic instantaneousness.



The American exhibitions


Between 1907 and 1911, Sorolla held numerous individual exhibitions: three in Germany (1907), one in London (1908) and the great exhibition of the Hispanic Society in New York (1909). Later others came to the United States: that same year at the Fine Arts Academy in Buffalo and the Copley Society in Boston; and in 1911, at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the City Art Museum of St. Louis, in addition to the International Exposition in Rome. The outbreak of World War I put an end to that movement.

In these exhibitions, Sorolla presented his color notes framed individually and gave them great prominence, showing the importance that the artist himself attached to them as autonomous and independent works. But providing all these exhibitions forced Sorolla to work intensely in medium formats, for which he gradually decreased his production of "colour notes".



PLENITUDE 1912 – 1919

“Now is when my hand completely obeys my retina and my feeling, twenty years later! Really the age at which one should call oneself a painter:after forty of work!”

Rodolfo Gil quoting Sorolla, in Joaquín Sorolla, 1913, pp. 25-30


Since 1912, the large commission for the murals for the Library of the Hispanic Society consumes most of his time. When he is not painting for the project, he does it for himself, without the pressure of the exhibitions.

He cultivates the intimate and silent garden pictures and produces some of the most beautiful and successful beach scenes. Increasingly, the speed, dexterity and lightness that he had applied in his notes are reflected in his larger works.


In recent years, the sketches that he paints on the northern beaches, especially in San Sebastián, show both his tireless desire for experimentation and his increasingly abbreviated execution. An essential Sorolla who, through his "small formats", continues to investigate the visual synthesis of shapes in the open air.

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