Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sorolla's Admiration for Zorn

Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla was a great admirer of Adolph Menzel and Jules Bastien-Lepage, not only for their virtuosic technique, but also for their attachment to the commonplace beauty of regular people in their home region.

Joaquín Sorolla Y Bastida - Paseo a orillas del mar 1909 Museo Sorolla

Sorolla said to a student: "An artist who belongs to no part of the world is a useless being. Take my advice and go home." 

He reserved his utmost admiration for the Swedish contemporary Anders Zorn in an article that he wrote in 1903. 

Anders Zorn - Flickan från Älvdalen 1911

He said (loosely translated): "Zorn was the one who had reached the closest to perfection of what I believe to be the aim of oil painting. I always kept track with lively emotion of what the master Zorn produced, and each painting reaffirms my belief in him. I have tried to explain to myself how he manages to achieve such a powerful interpretation of natural effects. Whenever I believe I've gotten close to achieving it, I am left wondering if I really have found the true key."

"I have already said that his technique is what we Spaniards are trying to do, but his way of painting is broader, firmer. He plucks the most delicate note from his palette, and with great care he places it in his painting. He never betrays nature with painting gimmicks like rubbed textures or glazes, by means of which other painters just try to achieve the superficial appearance of good painting."

The two artists remained friends throughout their careers. Sorolla never visited Sweden, but in 1902 he received Zorn as his guest in Spain.
SOROLLA, J. (1903), “Apunte sobre Zorn”, en La Lectura, Revista de Ciencias y de Artes, Año III, Tomo 1º, Madrid, pp. 571-572. Read more in the free pdf at Sorolla y Los Pintores Escandinavos


broker12 said...

The photo of the painting you posted with today's post reawakened my desire to know more about handling/using white. It has been a problem for me for years. Once I start "coloring" it, my brain goes on vacation. In other words, changing its value to indicate changing light values vexes me sorely. I study paintings like the one you posted today at length, and I marvel at how many values of white I see, but I have a terrible time doing that for myself. How about a post one of these days explaining how to use and temper white so it remains "white" even as your change it's value/color?

Anonymous said...

I noticed that Sorolla expressed a disdain for "rubbing" and "glazes." I'm not sure what rubbing is, but glazing is definitely a tool in my box. What do you think of that statement?

Loretta said...

I myself fine the use of a unifying glaze to be most useful at times.

James Gurney said...

Richard and Loretta, the terms he used were "frotes o veladuras" and an Italian term is "sfregatti" where shadowy glazes can be smudged on a form with the fingers. Sargent, Zorn, and Sorolla used every trick in the book, but compared to a lot of their academic colleagues, they tended to avoid indirect painting methods in favor of an approach where you try to mix the value and put it down as a patch.

Broker, you're right: white can be a challenge. Good idea to do a post on it. One tip is to never use pure white out of the tube and always have some color going on in it.

Virginia Fhinn said...

I completely agree with broker12 about white, I was looking at the Zorn painting there and thinking about the light reflection in the water - my brain cant pick out what colour it is at all. Grey? Is it white? Looks kinda pinkish? I'm reminded of Sargent's passion for painting white fabric, like the painting he did of a white tarp out in a war field.

John said...

I wonder whether the comment regarding artists without a home being useless was aimed at Sargent.