Joaquín Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light

If you have ever traveled through the southern part of Spain, then you noticed the magical golden hour light before sundown. There is something quite special about this light that might warm up your soul, and at that moment you do not need anything or anyone, so just standing there, admiring the natural beauty, and feeling alive. This light was the lifetime source of inspiration for the well-known Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida who tried to capture the magic of the Spanish light with his brush and created one of the most beautiful beaches, water, life, and landscape scenes that are appreciated by different generations.

Personal Life

Joaquín Sorolla was born in 1863 in Valencia, and soon became an orphan, so was adopted by his aunt and uncle. They noticed that little Joaquín is an exceptional kid and his paintings have something special, so they allowed him to attend the local painting class. When Joaquín turned 18 years old, he moved to Madrid and started to study art. After these studies and military service, he left for Rome to continue his education. There he was supervised by the director of the Spanish Academy in Rome Francisco Pradilla, and this man showed the world of modern paintings to Sorolla.

In 1888, Joaquín Sorolla married Clotilde García del Castillo. After a few years, they moved to Madrid where Sorolla was working a lot on the production of large canvases, so the beginning of the great fame was not easy. However, Clotilde was a great partner and his muse, she supported her husband and took care of his great name even after his death, as a result, there is an amazing museum of Sorolla in Madrid.

Style and Best Works

When Joaquín Sorolla started to study art, he was following the path of the classical art and admired the techniques of Diego Velázquez and El Greco, as a result, the clear details and dark colors can be easily noticed on the muted and claustrophobic paintings during the of Social Realism period of Sorolla.

The flow of style was changed since 1905 when Joaquín Sorolla spend more time in his hometown of Valencia together with his family. The beautiful beaches, idyllic free time, bright colors, and wonderful sunlight encouraged him to paint snapshots of beach life. He focused on playing natural light, bright surfaces, and photographic scenes, as a result, the paintings of this mature period are different from his early artworks. The most famous paintings of this period are A Walk on the Beach (1909), The Horse Bath (1909), and Time for a Bath (1909). These paintings can easily be distinguished by pastel colors of blues, pinks, and whites, as well as, the sunlight is the main accent that creates the feeling of calmness so you almost can feel the breeze and smell the sea.

Style and Best Works
Style and Best Works

Later, Joaquín Sorolla became interested to represent the different regions of Spain to show daily life scenes. The new series of paintings was called Visions of Spain, and the focus is on people, traditions, and light again. The highlights of this period are Bride from Lagartera (1912), The Pink Robe (1916), and Valencian Fisherwomen (1915).