19th Century European Paintings

An Afternoon in Joaquín Sorolla's Former Home

By Claude Piening

I t was a pleasure being back at Joaquín Sorolla's house, now the Museo Sorolla, in the Paseo del General Martínez Campos, to see the final leg of the major exhibition, Sorolla and the Paris Years. Having kicked off at the Kunsthalle München in spring, the exhibition travelled to the Museum of Impressionist Art at Giverny outside Paris over the summer, where it looked wonderful too. But seeing the works in the intimate space of Sorolla's own home felt very much like a homecoming.

AURORA ZUBILLAGA, HEAD OF SOTHEBY’S SPAIN WITH CLAUDE PIENING, HEAD OF 19TH CENTURY CONTINENTAL PICTURES

Curators Blanca Pons-Sorolla, Sorolla's great-granddaughter, and art history researcher María López Fernández, have succeeded brilliantly in assembling a group of works with a French, and specifically Paris, connection: all were either painted for the Paris Salons or shown at the artist's one-man show at the Galerie Georges Petit in 1906.

A SELECTION OF WORKS FROM THE SOROLLA EN PARIS EXHIBITION AT THE MUSEO SOROLLA.

Divided into themes ranging from genre, to portraiture and coastal landscapes, one that particularly interested me was a wall given over to the pictures he painted on the rocky Cabo de San Antonio in Jávea in the summer of 1905.

JOAQUÍN SOROLLA, NIÑOS BAÑANDOSE ENTRE ROCAS, JÁVEA (CHILDREN ON THE SHORE, JÁVEA). ESTIMATE £800,000–1,200,000.

The reason I was so captivated by these views was, for one thing, their sparkling luminosity and arresting palettes of blues, mauves and purples; and for another, that they are all variations on a theme explored in the highlight of our 19th Century European Paintings sale in London on 14 December: Sorolla's Children on the Shore, Jávea. It occurred to me that the painting we have for sale, showing Sorolla's three children playing in the waves, would have made a wonderful addition to the exhibition - and maybe still will!

Sorolla en Paris remains on view at the Museo Sorolla until 19 March 2017

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