Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

Joaquín Sorolla Bastida (1863 - 1923)

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Joaquín Sorolla Bastida
Born in Valencia, Valencia, Españamap
Husband of — married (to ) in Valencia, Valencia, Spainmap
Died in Cercedilla, Madrid, Españamap
Profile last modified | Created 25 Jul 2018
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Categories: Spanish Painters | Valencia, Valencia.

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Self Portrait, 1912, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

Joaquin Sorolla Bastida (1863-1923), the "Painter of Light", [1] is one of Spain's most renown painters. He was born in Valencia, Valencia, Spain, on 27 Feb 1863, and died in Cercedilla, Madrid, Spain, at the age of 60, on 10 Aug 1923. [2] He is buried at the Cemetery of Valencia, [3] as are several members of his family, including his wife, Clotilde García del Castillo (1865-1829). [4]

Note that his paintings are often signed "Sorolla y Bastida". The truth is, Sorolla did not like to sign his work and when he was obliged to submit his art for an exhibition, the whole family was put to work signing his masterpieces – he, his wife and their three children. So, when reviewing his work, there are five sets of handwriting to contend with, plus the modifications each "helper" made in their handiwork over time, which is why his signatures are rarely the same when compared, much to the consternation of museums, experts, heirs and collectors. [5] Within the family, Sorolla was called "Chimo". [6]

Joaquín came from a modest family. His parents, Joaquín Sorolla Gascón (1833-1865) [7] and Concepción Bastida Prat (1837-1876) [8] were owners of a fabric shop called Six Dits (Six Fingers). [9] They died within three days of one another in 1865, probably from a cholera outbreak, leaving Joaquin and his younger sister Concepción "Concha" Sorolla Bastida (1864-1934 ) [10] orphans at a very early age. The two children went to live with their aunt, their mother's sister, Isabel Bastida Prat ( -1923) [11] and her husband José Piqueras Guillén [12] who was a master locksmith. Joaquín was apprenticed to his uncle, but it was clear, from the onset, that the child had special aptitudes for drawing and the arts. [13] He received his initial art education under a succession of teachers including the sculptor Cayetano Capuz and the painter Salustiano Asenjo. At 18, he traveled to Madrid, and studied the Spanish Masters in the Museo del Prado. After completing his military service, Sorolla, at 22, obtained a grant which enabled a four-year term to study painting in Rome, Italy, where he was welcomed by and found stability in the example of Francisco Pradilla, the director of the Spanish Academy in Rome. A long trip to Paris in 1885 provided his first exposure to modern painting and he was particularly influenced by the exhibitions of Jules Bastien-Lepage and Adolf von Menzel. Back in Rome he studied with José Benlliure, Emilio Sala, and José Villegas Cordero. [14]

Clotilde in an Evening Gown, 1911, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

Joaquín married Clotilde García del Castillo (1865-1929) on 08 Sep 1888 in Valencia, in the parish of San Martín. Joaquín was a friend of her brother, Juan Antonio García, and worked for their father, the famous photographer Antonio García Peris (1841-1914) who became his protector when Joaquín was a Fine Arts student, studying with his son. García Peris needed an assistant and hired him, but he did much more: he welcomed him into his home, gave him a monthly pension, a place to work ... he was his friend and his mentor, introduced him to the artistic circles of the time and later became his father-in-law. [15] [16] Joaquín and Clotilde met in 1879 at the ages of 15 and 14, respectively. The marriage was an unusually happy one; Clotilde was more than his wife, she was his muse. She also worked actively supporting his career, doing the accounts, organizing his exhibits and taking care of the family. The two were inseparable although, Joaquín had to travel frequently because of his exhibitions, and when their children were small, Clotilde was obliged to stay behind. Nevertheless, their correspondence was legendary, and when apart, they had the custom of each one sending the other a letter every day. When away, Joaquín also sent his wife flowers daily. [17] More than 2000 letters between them still exist today. [1]

Theirs was a love story. It was in the images Sorolla painted of his wife in countless portraits and drawings. It was in the hundreds of letters they exchanged each day they were separated from one another. It was in Clotilde's bequeathal of his work to Spain as a final gesture of his legacy. It was in the care both put into the relationship until his death in 1923. [18] [2]

Joaquín and Clotilde had three children:

  1. María Clotilde Sorolla García (abt 1889-abt 1956) [19]
  2. Joaquín Sorolla García (abt 1892-abt 1948) [20]
  3. Elena Sorolla García (abt 1895-abt 1975) [21]

My Family, 1901, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

Joaquín Sorolla, The Painter

Sorolla began painting at 8 or 9 years old and did not stop until 1920 when his health forced him to do so. In less than 50 years he produced over 2200 catalogued works. [22] He lived to paint. His daily routine was to begin early in the morning, stop to eat at 1 p.m. and then take a nap, a "siesta". At 4 p.m. he resumed his work until supper-time (which in Spain traditionally runs late!). He didn't take breaks and he didn't like anyone to interrupt him. [17]

Joaquín Sorolla's Work

Under the Awning at Zarauz Beach, 1910, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

Art historians distinguish three periods in Sorolla's work. In the first, until 1904, his paintings are characterized by their marine-themed settings, customs and manners. In the second, between 1906-1911, he had numerous exhibitions abroad, and his plastic expression combined impressionist and post-impresionist tendencies that resulted in exquisite beach scenes in Zarauz, intimist garden landscapes in Seville, Granada, etc.

After the Bath, The Pink Robe, 1916, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

This is the moment in which he is recognized as an international artist and a fashionable portrait painter. In the third period, he received Archer Milton Huntington's commission to decorate the Hispanic Society of America in New York with scenes of "The Provinces of Spain", which he finished in 1919. Joaquín suffered a stroke in 1920 and never completely recovered from it. [23] He died on 10 Aug 1923. His wife bequeathed their house in Madrid and their collection of his paintings to the nation of Spain and convinced her children to do the same with their paintings. The Sorolla Museum, which opened in Jun 1932, is located there. [14]

Joaquín Sorolla's Paintings

Sorolla's first striking success was achieved with Another Marguerite (1892), which was awarded a gold medal at the National Exhibition in Madrid, then first prize at the Chicago International Exhibition. He soon rose to general fame and became the acknowledged head of the modern Spanish school of painting. [14]

Another Margaurite, 1892, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

Not long after, his picture, The Return from Fishing (1894), was much admired at the Paris Salon and indicated the direction of his mature output. [14]

The Return from Fishing, 1894, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

Sorolla painted two masterpieces in 1897 linking art and science: the Portrait of Dr. Simarro and An Investigation. These paintings were presented at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts held in Madrid in that year and Sorolla won the Prize of Honor. His work with indoor/outdoor lighting is considered unique. These paintings may be among the most outstanding world paintings of their genre. [14]

An Investigation, Doctor Simarro in His Laboratory, 1897, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

An even greater turning point in Sorolla's career was marked by the painting and exhibition of Sad Inheritance (1899), an extremely large canvas. The subject was a depiction of crippled children bathing at the sea in Valencia, under the supervision of a monk. The polio epidemic that struck Valencia some years earlier is present, possibly for the first time in the history of painting, through the image of the two affected children. The painting earned Sorolla his greatest official recognition, the Grand Prix and a medal of honor at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, and the medal of honor at the National Exhibition in Madrid in 1901. [14]

Sad Inheritance, 1899, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

Bathing Time, 1904, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

The next few years were full of exhibitions and honors. At the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900, he won a medal of honor and was nominated as Knight of the Legion of Honor; within the next few years Sorolla was honored as a member of the Fine Art Academies of Paris, Lisbon, and Valencia, and as a Favorite Son of Valencia. While in England in 1908, Sorolla met Archer Milton Huntington, who made him a member of The Hispanic Society of America in New York City, and invited him to exhibit there in 1909. [14]

Children on the Seashore, 1903, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida

Early in 1911, Sorolla visited the United States for a second time, and exhibited in both Saint Louis and Chicago. Later that year Sorolla met Archie Huntington in Paris and signed a contract to paint a series of oils on life in Spain. These 14 magnificent murals, installed to this day in the Hispanic Society of America building in Manhattan, range from 12 to 14 feet in height, and total 227 feet in length. The major commission of his career, it would dominate the later years of Sorolla's life. It was eventually called The Provinces of Spain. Despite the immensity of the canvases, Sorolla painted all but one in the outdoors, and travelled to the specific locales to paint them. By 1917 he was, by his own admission, exhausted. He completed the final panel by July 1919.

Seville, the Dance, 1915, by Joaquín Sorolla Bastida
Signature, Joaquín Sorolla Bastida


  1. 1.0 1.1 _ Magazine Website Vidas Interesantes, "Joaquín Sorolla, el Pintór de la Luz"
  2. 2.0 2.1 _ de Santa-Ana Álvarez-Ossorio, Florencio, "Joaquín Sorolla Bastida", Real Academia de Historia, Diccionario Biográfico Electrónico
  3. _ FIND A GRAVE: Joaquín Sorolla Bastida on 10 Aug 1923, accessed 25 July 2018
  4. _ FIND A GRAVE: Clotilde García del Castillo on 05 Jan 1929, accessed 04 August 2018
  5. _ Burgueño, María Jesús, "Las Firmas de Joaquín Sorolla", Revista de Arte, 16 Aug 2009
  6. _ Ceres (Collective Online Catalogue, Museums of Spain): Sibilings in the family Sorolla and García
  7. _ FIND A GRAVE: Joaquín Sorolla Gascón (father) on 28 Aug 1865, accessed 06 August 2018
  8. _ FIND A GRAVE: Concepción Bastida Prat (mother) on 25 Aug 1865, accessed 04 August 2018
  9. _ Simón, Federico, "Una página web de Cultura organiza una ruta virtual por la Valencia de Sorolla", News Website El País, Valencian Community Edition, 31 Jan 2012
  10. _ FIND A GRAVE: Concepción Sorolla Bastida (sister) on 12 Dec 1934, accessed 06 August 2018
  11. _ Ceres (Collective Online Catalogue, Museums of Spain): Isabel Bastida Prat
  12. _ Calvé, Oscar, "Sorolla, el pintor de la Malvarrosa", News Website Las Provincias, Valencian Community, 20 Feb 2016
  13. _ Museo del Prado: Joaquín Sorolla Bastida
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 _ Wikipedia: Joaquín Sorolla Bastida, accessed 25 July 2018
  15. _ Wikipedia: Antonio García Peris, accessed 04 Aug 2018
  16. _ Website dedicated to Madrid, Madrid, Villa y Corte: "Clotilde Sorolla"
  17. 17.0 17.1 _ Lázaro, Margarita, "Los secretos de Sorolla que se esconden en su casa museo de Madrid", News Website HuffPost (formerly Huffington Post), 07 Dec 2014
  18. _ Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, "Exposición Clotilde de Sorolla", 12 Mar to 14 Oct 2012, Madrid, Spain
  19. _ FIND A GRAVE: María Clotilde Sorolla García on 19 Jun 1956, accessed 03 Aug 2018
  20. _ FIND A GRAVE: Joaquín Sorolla García (son) on 02 Mar 1948, accessed 06 August 2018
  21. _ FIND A GRAVE: Elena Sorolla García on 16 Mar 1975, accessed 06 August 2018
  22. _ Aguado, Carlos, "Joaquín Sorolla, vida y obra del pintor valenciano", Digital News OkDiario, 27 Jun 2017
  23. _ Juanes, David (Instituto Valenciano de Conservación y Restauración de Bienes Culturales), Gómez, Marisa (Instituto del Patrimonio Histórico Español), with the collaboration of Algueró, Montse, & Arteaga, Angela (Instituto del Patrimonio Histórico Español), "La paleta de Sorolla a través de algunas pinturas analizadas de museos y colecciones")

Find a Grave Entries in this Biography

  1. Joaquín Sorolla Bastida: Find A Grave: Memorial #6981446
  2. Clotilde García del Castillo: Find A Grave: Memorial #88440765
  3. Joaquín Sorolla Gascón (father): Find A Grave: Memorial #172253766
  4. Concepción Bastida Prat (mother): Find A Grave: Memorial #172253825
  5. Concepción Sorolla Bastida (sister): Find A Grave: Memorial #172253878
  6. María Clotilde Sorolla García: Find A Grave: Memorial #74045709
  7. Joaquín Sorolla García: Find A Grave: Memorial #88451131
  8. Elena Sorolla García: Find A Grave: Memorial #88451023

Research Notes

  • He's on a number of passenger lists between Europe and the US on Ancestry. I can add them for you if you don't have an Ancestry subscription. MacLeod-1797 13:41, 28 July 2018 (UTC)

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Images: 14
Self-Portrait, 1909
Self-Portrait, 1909

Another Margaurite
Another Margaurite

The Return from Fishing
The Return from Fishing

An Investigation, Doctor Simarro in His Laboratory
An Investigation, Doctor Simarro in His Laboratory

Self Portrait
Self Portrait

view all


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