Santa en oración (Madrid, Museo del Prado) was right there at the beginning to remind the unaware visitor "did you think you knew what this is about? think again!". This one screams Mucha all over, no matter how you look at it all those patterns and gold and curvilinear shapes are SO Mucha! It went right to my favs because 1) it's stunning, 2) proves that no matter how good someone is he/she have idols to look up to too. It's so different from his style that enables your awareness mode to "see" the rest of the exhibition through a different glass.
Después del baño (private collection) is a painting I loved because, not only the rendition of all the elements (the skin, the textile, the marble) is top notch, but the reflection of the woman on the marble is so unbelievable real that your jaw drops, really subtle and well rendered.
Las redes (private collection) is just so classy, it's a pity that I couldn't find a bigger image online, it's a perfect example of what Sorolla do best, the treatment of light, not only the shadows casted by the foliage reads real and let you feel the temperature in that small alley, you can feel the sun going through those trousers hung there, and the net is so delicate and detailed that makes you wanna get closer and closer and no matter how close it still reads real, awesome, whe I saw it I started wondering about the kind of brushes he used, the strokes are so thin and delicate in that net.
La vuelta de la pesca (París, Musée d’Orsay) is one of those paintings that, no matter how good the reproduced image is, it won't do justice to the actual painting, of course the rendition of the water is perfect and full of colors yet the 2 areas I fell in love with in this piece were the block of wood in the man hands (because it's wet, you can see the hint of water running down from it, and I'm not talking only about the obvious blue and white, you can "see" the brown areas of the wood "are" wet, I really standed there mesmerized by it quite some time) and the fur of the bull (because he managed to make it look like the sun was hitting the sail and going through to the fur of the animal, with just some simple strokes of vibrant reds in the right places). One thing that you can't usually see in the reproduced images of Sorolla's paintings is the vibrant reds he uses when he depicts light, really vibrant for contrast, you look at it and would think he'd gone crazy then look at the whole areas and it's just the right color in the right amount, that orangey area on the bulls back? and the area around it's eye? are full of intense red IRL.
Cosiendo la vela (Venecia, Fondazione Museu Civici di Venezia, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Morderna di Ca’ Pesaro) This one is brilliant, probably one of the best, it's not just the light, it's the fact that you can see the vine and it's not even in the painting, that's right, the shadows on the sail let's you visualize the vine, you could stay hours letting your eye flow from the blue columns to the vine to the sail to the roses to the people to the blue columns to the vine... Something not noticeable in the print but really obvious in the actual painting is how smartly he grabs your eye and makes you focus just using some strong hard edges in the front woman's simple pink sleeve and elbow, it's SO obvious! and at the same time kind of subtle in a way! and works so well here, just a tiny detail like that and all the feast of shapes colors and lights tone down for a moment, just enough to let the party start again.
El bote blanco - jávea (private collection) This is one of those that doesn't make justice to the original painting AT ALL, a pity because there are so much lovely mauves purples greens and blues there... as soon as my friend Angeles and me got to this painting we both said "gotta be kidding me, that's FUB right from the tube!", that's how bold with color he gets in this painting, and somehow he makes it work! I haven't mentioned Sorolla's use of strokes yet, it's obvious he uses a combination of colors and values masterfully to depict light but another strong point of his is the brush strokes, he goes from thin blended and delicate to bold loose simple almost careless huge strokes in the right place, in the right painting, this one is a good example of that.
Maria vestida de labradora valenciana (private collection) Talking about bold brush strokes lol! I think this is the only portrait I've included here, even if he's a great portrait painter, as much realists those can get, I don't liek them as much as I like his other themes. But yes, this one is perfect, not only for the strokes, but for the rendering of the costume AND most of all the use of color in her face which is the part that made this one in to my top, it's not easily seen in the reproduction of the whole painting (I didn't find a good image) but look at the face detail, now imagine those blues deeper and those oranges more red and vibrant and you'll get a hint of how vivid this is, usually his portraits are full of darks but this one is full of life. A second best to her face are the greens on the background, nothing at all as depicted in this image I'm posting :(.
Hora del mediodía en la playa de valencia (Arango collection) Perfect title because you could actually tell the hour when this scene was immortalized. Just look at that water shining, do I need to say more?
Preparación de la pasa (Oviedo. Principado de Asturias, Colección Pedro Masaveu. Deposited at the Museo de Bellas Artes de Asturias) I couldn't find a full image of this painting (this thumb must be full viewed, trust me) but this detail is brilliantly taken by this photographer, if only the people in charge of the Catalog would have made a job as good as this man did I would have paid
Desnudo de mujer (Private collection) Did I mentioned bold strokes? well, here is a great example of the whole range he has, capable of the softer and most delicate strokes too, the skin of that woman is incredible but then there comes the bed clothes stealing the show, the pink in there turns the image in something almost ethereal, you can see the layers and layers of cloths one over the other, the texture, the softness of it, and the needlework on the transparent cloth at her feet, ah! simply beautiful.
Ex voto (Private collection) This is one of those paintings that no one would relate to Sorolla's signature, it is indeed closer to his portraits' style, what made it so special for me (and it won't leave my top favs from now on) is the amount os detail in what is basically a "small" painting compared with most of his works, 85 x 118 cm (33,5" x 46,5" aprox.), it's not THAT small either but look at all that detail, the face of that old man in black is perfectly detailed, not a wrinkle left, and it must be what... 3 inches tall? AWESOME, plus even it's not the most colorful scene ever but there are indeed a lot of vibrant colors "hidden" in it, a good example is the wall around the door that has such a beautiful drawing or pattern or whatever that's called, the paintings on it and the mirror, if you get close you can actually see the oposite wall of the room, cool.
Saliendo del baño (New York, The Hispanic Society of America) Because the light shines on the white cloth, reflects on the sand, bounces back to the girls' clothes, which are wet and stuck to the skin, and the skins IS SO REAL! and what not! it's top notch, it's perfect, the feet are a blotch of paints and they read as perfectly normal feet. At this point it's something to notice how he really doesn't paint faces in his beach paintings even being a brilliant portrait painter, it's just not necesary, some colors here and there and your mind do the rest, it's not the important part of the painting, the lead role is not the person, it's the light, I loved that.
La bata rosa (Madrid, Museo Sorolla)One of my all time favourites, a masterpiece of simplicity yet it's full of light, I'd swear that the hole in that back wall is actually a yellow triangle outlined by a dioxazine violet line. Bold careless strokes? "in your face!", those whites over the towel agree. I love this painting, always have and always will.
Idilio en el mar (Nueva York, The Hispanic Society of America) is a perfect example of how good this man was at using contrast, depicting not only a rich full of color water, not only wet lively skin but movement too, you can feel the water running softly around the children, you can see the transparency of the wave over the sand at the beach, and it's full of blues greens, almost a viridian color mixed with mauves and purples. Soothing image, and one worthy of being seen IRL.
Rocas de Jávea y bote blanco (Madrid, Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, in deposit at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza) this is one of the most vibrant with color in the whole exhibition, impresionistic, great texture, mesmerizing to the extreme. One of my very favourites of the whole list, maybe becausse it somehow makes you feel alive.
There's nother one I really loved because it's different from the rest of his works, it's Día gris en la playa de Valencia (Private collection) and it's a grey dark seascape with a storm far at the open sea oposed to his usual full of light scapes, it's so subtle yet you can see even the storm, all in greys, sadfuly I can't find a photo of it online.
For a full list of the pieces in the exhibition just click here.