This May, the Museo del Prado
is presenting the largest and most important retrospective ever to be devoted to the work of Joaquín Sorolla, the most internationally celebrated Spanish painter of the XIX century. The exhibition includes more than 100 paintings by the artist and will offer a comprehensive overview of his finest works, among them all of his great masterpieces. They include the group of panels entitled Visions of Spain, painted for the Hispanic Society of America and brought to Spain by Bancaja in 2007. This exceptional exhibition has benefited from the sponsorship of Bancaja, who in addition to their significant undertaking as organising body of the exhibition Sorolla. Vision of Spain that was shown to great acclaim in various Spanish cities, has now made a further contribution in the form of their collaboration with this major exhibition project at the Prado.
The exhibition Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) (Museo del Prado, 26 May to 6 September 2009) will offer the visiting public an outstanding opportunity to see more than 100 paintings by the great Valencian master in what will constitute the most comprehensive and ambitious survey of his finest works. Among the 102 paintings on display, loaned from museums and collections worldwide, will be all the masterpieces by Sorolla that brought him most fame. They include Return from Fishing (1894), loaned by the Musée dOrsay in Paris; Sewing the Sail (1896), from the Galleria Internazionale dArte Moderna di CaPesaro in Venice; Sad Inheritance (1899), from the Bancaja Collection; Evening Sun (1903), from The Hispanic Society of America in New York, which is returning to Spain for the first time since it was sold to New York by the artist himself; The Photographer Christian Franzen (1903), from the Lorenzana Collection; Female Nude (1902), and The white Boat. Jávea (1905), both from a private collection.
The exhibition will naturally also include important examples of Sorollas work from the Prados own collection, including And they still say Fish is expensive! (1894), and Boys on the Beach (1909), as well as a large number of paintings from the Museo Sorolla in Madrid, including The Horses Bath (1909), Strolling along the Sea Shore (1909), and The Pink Gown (1916). The exhibition will also feature the dazzling group of fourteen monumental panels entitled Visions of Spain, painted by Sorolla for the Hispanic Society of America in New York. They have travelled for the first time in their history for exhibition in Spain through the agreement reached with Bancaja. The large number of works by Sorolla assembled at the Prado, all of which are considered masterpieces by experts on the artist, will make this exhibition unique and unrepeatable.
Over the last few decades Sorolla has been the subject of study in the form of numerous exhibitions and other projects, but there has not been a major retrospective of this type since the one devoted to the artist in 1963 in the Casón del Buen Retiro, organised by the Ministry of Science and Education. In addition, the present exhibition, the first to be devoted to Sorolla by the Prado, emphasises the idea of interpreting him as the last great master within its collections. Sorolla will thus be seen to fall within the great tradition of the Spanish School through an exhibition of the same scale, importance and scholarly rigour as the others devoted to the leading names of Spanish art held at the Prado over the years, such as those on Velázquez, Ribera, Murillo, El Greco, Zurbarán and Goya.
The layout of the exhibition
The exhibition has a fundamentally chronological structure, organised into various sections that emphasise the importance of the various themes and subjects that Sorolla depicted at different periods in his career. For example, there will be a space dedicated to the paintings of social themes that brought the artist fame in the last decades of the 19th century. This is followed by a sizeable group of portraits and a nude that reveal the profound influence of Velázquez on his compositions during the early years of the 20th century. Another area will display his finest beach scenes, painted in 1908 and 1909. Due to their particular importance and large size, the fourteen panels of Visions of Spain painted for the Hispanic Society of America will fill an entire room of the four occupied by the exhibition. This spectacular group was the most complex and important decorative scheme of Sorollas entire career and can also be seen as an epilogue and summary of his entire oeuvre. The exhibition ends with examples of his landscape paintings.