Joaquín Sorolla was one of the most interesting Spanish painters in a period distinguished by Impressionism and Symbolism. A key figure in the Belle Époque, a celebrated portrait artist alongside Sargent and Boldini, he was a master at capturing the effects of light on his canvases; his style was immediate and at the same time deliberate, drawn from Velázquez as much as from Nineteenth Century Nordic and French landscape painting.
For the first time in Italy, Palazzo dei Diamanti celebrates this great artist with an exhibition dedicated to his later works. In this phase, Sorolla is at the peak of his career and begins to create, at first just for himself, surprisingly modern works using his garden as his subject.
Welcoming the visitor is a fascinating selection of portraits of his family set in gardens with fountains, painted from 1906-07. These are masterpieces in which the figures sink into a sparkling atmosphere of pure strokes of colour and seem absorbed by the play of light.
Fundamental to his development as an artist was his time in Andalusia, as can be seen in the series of paintings from 1908 to 1918. This area, with its ancient culture and striking architecture, profoundly affected Sorolla’s imagination, inspiring the creation of a poetics of silence and a unique style rich with symbolist resonances.
The painter’s enthusiasm before the Alhambra in Granada and the Sierra Nevada shines through in the impressive views of the fortress and the crystalline scenes of the mountain range. In his paintings of Andalusian women, he goes beyond the stereotypes to capture them in more intimate poses, as though taking snapshots rather than folkloristic studio paintings.
The core of the exhibition is dedicated to the extraordinary series of paintings of the Moorish patios and gardens of southern Spain. Free of human presence, the marbles, ceramic tiles, fountains and flower beds in these compositions come together in a crescendo of form, colour, sound and perfume. The artist’s brushstrokes alight upon the reflections on the water and on the light, seeming to dissolve the architecture and giving shape to paintings that are increasingly pure and refined.
The exhibition concludes with masterpieces inspired by the “artist’s garden” Sorolla created in his new house at Madrid. The elderly painter dedicated a great deal of energy to the construction of this corner of quiet beauty modeled on the gardens of Seville and Granada, with a passion that is reminiscent of that lavished by Monet on his lily pond. And like Monet at Giverny, Sorolla found in his own garden an inexhaustible source of inspiration, transferring to the canvas the lessons of simplicity and lyricism that he learned in Andalucía.
Tomàs Llorens, Blanca Pons-Sorolla, María López Fernández e Boye Llorens
Ferrara Arte, Gallerie d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Ferrara, Patronato de la Alhambra y Generalife di Granada, Museo Sorolla di Madrid e Fundación Museo Sorolla di Madrid
Comune di Ferrara
Provincia di Ferrara
Con il patrocinio di
Regione Emilia-Romagna, Ferrara Terra e Acqua, Università degli Studi di Ferrara
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara, Cassa di Risparmio di Ferrara e Parsitalia Real Estate
Granada, Museo de Bellas Artes, Alhambra, 29 giugno – 14 ottobre 2012
Madrid, Museo Sorolla, 29 ottobre 2012 – 5 maggio 2013