Sunday, 16 February 2014

Museo Sorolla Madrid

While in Madrid last week to speak at the European Regional Airports conference I visited the Museo Sorolla, a major cultural attraction of the city, on the recommendation of my pal Charlie Jamieson, one of Scotland's leading painters and a man who recognises a great fellow "colourist" when he sees one.

An outstanding example of a "house museum" the Museo Sorolla in Madrid has preserved the atmosphere of what it was like when its celebrated occupant, Joaquin Sorolla Bastida, lived there in the early twentieth century. The artist's studio, illustrated above and below, is a very large space, full of light with an airy feeling about it even although its walls are now full of the artist's work, examples of which are shown below.

Born in Valencia in 1863, Sorolla became known in Spain as the quintessential painter of Spanish peasant dress and customs at a time when traditional dress was dying out and as a painter of life at the sea side and portraits of intimate natural family life. His work has been compared to that of Sir John Singer Sargeant and he himself recorded how much he had been influenced by the painting style of Velasquez and the Scandinavian painters "en plein air", Zorn and Kroyer. He was particularly inspired by the Valencian coastal landscape and by the landscapes of the Spanish interior, for example, around Toldeo. 

All the while he developed a very distinctive style of portraiture, often using his wife and children as his models. Latterly, towards the end of his life, he developed this style through his portraits of Spanish peasants in their traditional dress, as shown below.

For me this museum was a joy to discover and a wonderful addition to my knowledge of Madrid's cultural attractions, offering a contrast to the more formal paintings found in the Prado. I recommend you to visit it the next time you are in Madrid..