Press Release

This spring, Palazzo dei Diamanti is proud to present for the first time in Italy the works of Joaquín Sorolla (1863–1923), one of the most remarkable interpreters of modern Spanish painting.

A protagonist of La Belle Époque and as renowned as Sargent and Boldini as a portrait artist, today Sorolla is considered one of the most fascinating Spanish artists during this crucial period from the late Nineteenth to the early Twentieth centuries, a period notable for the spread of Impressionism and Symbolism.

Ferrara Arte pays homage to Sorolla with an exhibition organized in collaboration with the Patronato de la Alhambra y El Generalife in Granada, the Museo Sorolla, and the Fundación Museo Sorolla in Madrid Curated by Tomàs Llorens, Blanca Pons-Sorolla, María López Fernández and Boye Llorens, the show will travel to Granada and Madrid after Ferrara.

Focusing on a pivotal period in the creative path of the painter, the exhibition presents works from the years of his full maturity and in particular, paintings stemming from his fascination with the theme of the garden and his time in Andalusia. Already successful, Sorolla continued to reflect on his art. In this period he develops a unique voice characterized by a poetic of silence and intimacy, crafting a sophisticated language that resonates astonishingly with contemporary Symbolist and Modernist movements. This introspective process and quest for simplicity is investigated here for the first time, throwing new light on Sorolla's artistic persona. Similarities between the Spanish painter's works and those of Giovanni Boldini will also be explored.

An outstanding series of portraits painted from 1906-07 of the painter's family set in the garden with its fountains opens the exhibition. In paintings such as María dressed as a Valencian peasant, Skipping the rope or Watching fishes, the figures blend into sparkling backgrounds created with brushstrokes of pure colour or trace sinuous shapes on sparkling water. This play between subject and landscape prefigures the modernity seen in Sorolla's later works.

Fundamental to Sorolla's development as an artist was his discovery of Andalusia where he stayed regularly between 1908 and 1918. This markedly affected the style of his late maturity, and we perceive a gradual transition from naturalism towards one rich with Symbolist resonances. The exhibition traces his response to this land and its ancient culture, from the magnificent landscapes of the Sierra Nevada which provided material for dreamlike crystalline visions, to his studies of Andalusian subjects such as Joaquína the gypsy, interpreting them with an originality that was far from stereotypical.

What inspired Sorolla most of all in Andalusia were the Moorish gardens and patios of the Alhambra in Granada and the Alcázar in Seville, as can be seen in the extraordinary series of paintings that he dedicated to this theme over the course of a decade. Here, he captures the secluded and solemn charm of the places that profoundly influenced music and poetry in Spain at the time. The vegetation, the marbles, ceramics, fountains, light and colours create a rich sensory counterpoint that resonates through these compositions from which all human presence has been banished. The artist's brushstrokes linger over the reflections on the water, on the light that seems to dissolve into geometric patterns and on the colourful mosaics of the garden, making them the protagonists in a painting which speaks a language that is ever more pure and refined.

Andalusia profoundly changed Sorolla's work, leading to a style that culminated in the paintings inspired by the garden of his new house in Madrid. The elderly painter spent a lot of energy creating his garden, with a passion that is reminiscent of Monet and his lily pond. He took his inspiration from the verdant corners of Seville and Grenada, bringing from Andalusia fountains, tiles, columns, statues, fruit trees and ornamental plants. And like Monet at Giverny, Sorolla found in his garden an inexhaustible source of inspiration, transferring to the canvas the lessons of simplicity and lyricism he had acquired in Andalusia.

This enthralling narrative unfolds in the rooms of the Palazzo dei Diamanti, interwoven with Sorolla's life experiences and contemporary culture, through a selection of about 60 paintings and a small selection of drawings and documents, coming from public and private collections, foremost the Museo Sorolla.

SOROLLA. Giardini di luce
Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, March 17– June 17 2012

The exhibition is curated by Tomàs Llorens, Blanca Pons-Sorolla, María López Fernández and Boye Llorens, organized by Ferrara Arte in collaboration with Patronato de la Alhambra y El Generalife in Granada, the Museo Sorolla and the Fundación Museo Sorolla in Madrid.

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