Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Sorolla's Little Plein-Air Studies

The Sorolla Museum in Spain is hosting an exhibition of the master's tiny oil studies. The show is called "Hunting Impressions: Sorolla in Small Format."

Pepita García del Castillo, 1889, Oil on board, 
13.7 x 8.6 cm  (5.4 x 3.4 inches)
The curators say: "Sorolla takes elements from the Italian school of the Macchiaioli, whom he had known during his period of scholarship in Rome (1885-1888). They placed great importance on the natural quality of small wooden panels, and they used the wood grain as an expressive element." 

Joaquín, María and Elena Sorolla García, 1897, Oil on board,
7.5 x 12 cm (x 4.75 x 3 inches)
In this sketch he portrays his own children at the beach. Sorolla made plein-air paintings that were both very large and very small. He called his small oil sketches "spots" or "colored notes," and they're often fragmentary, as if partially congealed from the primordial soup.

Curators say: "In this color note, Sorolla focuses on the silhouettes of the children with their straw hats that are cut out on the bluish sea, surrounded by a sandy bottom suggested only through the color of the support. With a reduced palette of colors, in which the blues predominate, Sorolla models the bodies and portrays wave movement by means of short, thick brushstrokes."

Among the pines, 1900, Oil on canvas, 22 x 29 cm
Sorolla painted this sketch of his family members during a trip to Galicia, with his family sitting in the shade of the pines, busy with knitting and other activities.

"The composition is marked by the trunks of the trees that organize the different planes of the scene, as well as the red of the woman's dress, which attracts the viewer's gaze. In these color notes, rather than in his larger, definitive works, you can see how Sorolla progressively introduces color in the treatment of shadows, which he considered as an element of modernity."
Hunting impressions: Sorolla in small format at Museo Sorolla will be on view through September 29, 2019.
Thanks, Manuel Barranco.


Michael Dooney said...

There was a great Sorolla show in San Diego Art Museum several years back and they had a whole room full of these. They were great to see from an artist's perspective, but they kind of got over shadowed by the big vibrant full paintings on display in the adjoining rooms.

Rich said...

Once you have got "The Basics" you eventually can "play around" the way Sorolla did, in this case.

Great samples - thanks James.

Evelyn said...

Wow -- many thanks for this post, James! I couldn't see on the Museum's website if they had an exhibition catalogue. I scrolled through lots of gorgeous posts on their Facebook page, and finally found a link to this publication: 25 euros for the book, and 21 euros for shipping to Chicago (I ordered two).

Mary Aslin said...

I seem to remember seeing a selection of some of these sketches—yes, perhaps it was at the San Diego exhibit—where, in one of the descriptions, Sorolla expressed some embarrassment at the unfinished less than perfect quality of these sketches. They were obviously intended for his own use. I just love the raw expressiveness of these little on the spot studies. Viewed collectively, one really gets a sense of Sorolla’s energy and how nature and light were his teacher...nothing contrived...just beautiful subjects in natural light.

Roberto Quintana said...

This Post is a great follow-on to yesterdays post on ‘Painting Fine Details with Big Brushes’. It is very difficult for most beginners to get this concept. But it is one of the most important techniques one can learn to improve your skill. It’s not just the speed, using bigger brushes adds expressiveness and life to ones work and eliminates timid and hesitant strokes. These sketches are masterful examples. -RQ

markmors said...

I just met an artist this weekend from Madrid. He is a huge fan of Sorolla.
Sorolla influenced his style at painting min

Kathleen Noble said...

Many thanks for introducing me to Sorolla in an earlier post. I already had his museum/home on our upcoming Spain itinerary, and am excited to find that we'll be in Madrid just before this exhibit closes. Feeling so lucky!

Manuel Barranco said...

thanks to you, James, for your pleasant way of teaching and sharing. I love your work!