Sorolla was born in 1863 in Valencia, Spain. At two years of age, his parents died in a cholera outbreak that left him orphaned. His aunt and uncle raised him. He initiated his artistic learning in 1877 with the sculptor Cayetano Capuz. Four years later, Sorolla won a grant to study painting in Rome. He completed his education in Rome, studying under Francisco Pradilla. While there, he developed a distinct ability for depicting the effects of light. After returning to Spain in 1890, Sorolla settled down in Madrid. He began his professional career with successes, prizes and important orders. Of note, Sorolla won the National Medal of Beautiful Arts in 1892 and 1895 and the Grand Prix of the Exhibition of Paris of 1900. In these years, he painted works of social criticism, which granted a certain prestige to him in both Madrid and Paris.
1900 saw Sorolla move away from salon painting and follow a more personal vision. Sorolla tied the academic traditions of painting to the open air painting of the impressionists. An artist of enormous production, between 1880 and 1920, Sorolla executed over 4,000 paintings and sketches and some 8,000 drawings. He sent 500 paintings to his first show in Paris. His popularity extended through all of Europe, giving exhibitions in Berlin (1907) and London (1908). In 1909, Sorolla delivered 356 works to New York City for exhibition and sale. More than half sold and 160,000 people viewed his show. The success in America provided an important order for him: the decoration of the main room of the Hispanic Society of America. Funded by Archer Huntington, Sorolla was commissioned to paint fourteen panels to represent the people and customs of the diverse regions of Spain. The project took seven years to complete.
Sorolla collapsed from a stroke in 1920 while painting a portrait in his garden. Sadly, he was paralyzed for three years and died the 10th of August 1923 at the age of sixty.
Sorolla: The Hispanic Society
Pricilla E. Muller and Marcus B. Burke
The painter Joaquin Sorolla
“All the mistakes committed by artists are due to their having separated themselves from truth, believing that their imagination is stronger. There is nothing stronger than nature. With nature in front of us we can do everything well.” ~ Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida