Sunday, March 10, 2019

Sorolla's Method

 Joaquín Sorolla, Afternoon Sun
How did Joaquín Sorolla produce paintings of such dynamically challenging subjects: kids, boats, oxen, wind, and waves?

Sorolla Washerwomen (sketch), about 7.5 x 10 inches
A 1911 article on Joaquín Sorolla describes his method.

"Sorolla's habit is to observe nature very carefully, to see all that is going on at the beach, sketch attitudes and movements, sometimes very strange ones, then select his models and make careful drawings. This careful drawing never seems to disappear."

Photo of Sorolla painting. Note the rope stabilizing the top of the
canvas and the heavy weight hanging from the easel
"He takes his paraphernalia to the beach, poses his models as nearly like his sketch as possible, but never allowing the stiffness of the model to interfere with the elastic drawing he has made, and then paints the sea and the sky, the sliding water and the beautiful shadows as he there sees them."

Juaquín Sorolla, Before Bathing
"The work is a commingling of careful thought and study with lightning-like impressions. Thus we see beautiful attitudes, beautifully drawn and the most brilliant vagaries united."

The article describes a painting of boys swimming, and says: "The artist took down six boys to the water. Three of these he set to swimming, and when they were tired they wrapped themselves in blankets while the other three went at work, and so on alternating throughout the day. Although he paints with extraordinary swiftness, the picture of life size boys requires time."

"It is no easy matter to work on the sea beach, especially when the size of the canvas is four or five feet. Of course the wind always blows and a canvas is a kite. Not alone could it be easily carried off by the wind, but the linen itself is liable to tremble and flap because of the windy gusts."

"Fortunately for him Sorolla is rich enough to secure every contrivance, and to take with him a sufficient number of attendants, to manage all the details, to anchor down his easel and to fly to his assistance in case of need. He frequently stretches his canvas on a big drawing board, and, it is not uncommon to find places in the pictures where he has planted thumb tacks through the canvas to keep it perfectly still."
Read More
• Online article on JSTOR: Sorolla the Spanish Painter, His Art, by James William Pattison, Fine Arts Journal, 1911.
• Previously blog posts on GurneyJourney: Sorolla Painting on the Beach and Photos of Sorolla Painting
• Upcoming exhibition: "Joaquín Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light" opens 10 August 2019 at the National Gallery of Ireland.
• Book: Sorolla: The Masterworks


denton said...

I believe the Hispanic Society museum in NYC has a large collection of his works, though temporarily closed at this time. I look forward to seeing it someday. Denton H

scottT said...

So inventive. He created his own world on canvas and sold it as reality through the strength of his artistic personality. I forgot how colorful his work was. His paintings are like allegories--he could almost fit in with the Symbolists. I never made that connection before.

My Pen Name said...

@denton - yes the hispanic society has a collection of murals he did and in the library portion portraits of the Spanish intelligentsia of his time.

He would also swap out two models dressed the same way and roughly the same body type and height so he could keep painting while one model rested.

His home in Madrid which is a museum is well worth a visit.

Aaron Parks said...

Thanks Mr. Gurney. Sorolla is one of my all-time favorites. The notes about all the extra steps he had to take in order to account for the wind were excellent... counter weight on the easel and ropes at the top - genius.

Leo Mancini-Hresko said...

I'd like to see these actual drawings- preparatory studies for the paintings done separately. I've heard this before but I've never actually seen them. So much about Sorollas work oozes the outdoors and working on the spot, would be interesting to track down these studies- if they exist.

There's a show up right now in Lisbon of his work- sketches, studies, mostly things I was unfamiliar with. Great catalogue. The only preparatory works I saw in there were for his hipanic society murals.

Leo Mancini-Hresko said...