After being seen in Valencia, Seville, Málaga and Bilbao, the Museu Nacional is to host the exhibition Sorolla. Vision of Spain. The Hispanic Society of America Collection, which brings together the series of 14 panels painted by Sorolla to decorate the library of this New York-based American institution.
Curated by Felipe Garín and Facundo Tomàs, professors at the University of Valencia and experts on this painter, this exhibition presents, for the first time, all of these impressive pieces outside the headquarters for which the group of paintings was designed, and which have been restored for the occasion.
The Hispanic Society of America was founded in 1904 by the art and scholar Archer Milton Huntington (1870-1955), where he built up his important collection of Spanish art, with works by important artists such as El Greco, Francisco de Zurbarán, José de Ribera, Alonso Cano, Diego Velázquez, Marià Fortuny, Ramón Casas, Santiago Rusiñol, Isidre Nonell o Ignacio Zuloaga.
In 1911, Huntington commissioned Joaquín Sorolla to do the decoration of the library. The painter travelled round Spain collecting different scenes from the Spanish geography. He painted immense panels directly from life, a task he was not to finish until 1919, shortly before his death. In fact, Sorolla never saw these panels exposed in the Hispanic Society.
The years between the date of completion and commissioning are a highly illustrative proof of the challenge and the difficulty that doing the panels meant for Sorolla. Far from confining himself to doing them quickly, he decided to emphasise the direct contact with the motif depicted, thus turning the protagonists of the compositions into veritable studies of human types. This did not mean, however, renouncing the bursts of light and colour, two of the traits that have most characterized his art and have contributed the most to making him one of the most universal Spanish painters.
Sorolla. Vision of Spain. The Creative Process
Given their monumental nature, the iconographic programme painted by Sorolla to be part of the decoration of the Hispanic Society of America undoubtedly constitutes one of the most singular and emblematic undertakings in the history of the Spanish painting. However, the spectacular nature of the group as a whole has contributed to hiding the way in which they were produced, a process that entailed a great deal of difficulties and vicissitudes for the painter. With the aim of revealing some aspects of a laborious and complex way of working, the Museu Nacional dArt de Catalunya is organizing this show, designed fundamentally to complement the one that can be seen in Temporary Exhibitions room 1. According to this principle, the exhibition presents a selection of about 50 preparatory drawings, belonging to the collections of the Museo Sorolla in Madrid and the Hispanic Society of America, which show us Sorollas artistic ideas, at the study stage, before they were painted. It is series of compositions on paper, related to the painted panels, notable for being a graphic testimony with an unequivocal compositional intent. Nevertheless, at the same time, the works on display also make it possible to appreciate the artists innate talent for achieving visual effects of a surprising and captivating beauty. As they are smaller works, Sorollas language and work express themselves with greater creative freedom and spontaneity. The painter uses compositional licenses that, at certain times, are highly stimulating for the spectator, given their experimental nature and their stunning modernity.
Sorolla. Vision of Spain has been organized by Bancaja with works from the Hispanic Society of America in collaboration with the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.