Sorolla, Spanish master of light

The exhibition Sorolla: Spanish master of light (S950.a.201.6770) that inspired this post is coming to an end at the National Gallery (London) on 7 July, but will open at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin between 10 August and 3 November.

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Self-portrait, 1904 (partial view. Via Wikimedia, click to see enlarged)

Although probably not known to the English-speaking educated public, Sorolla was the most internationally well-known Spanish artist of his time. A painter with a style close to impressionism, and without any doubt, a master at capturing light.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) was born in Valencia, the son of a tradesman, but became an orphan at a young age. Joaquín and his sister were taken under the care of their aunt and uncle, who was a locksmith. Sorolla showed an early interest in painting. He started taking drawing classes in 1874, later followed by studies at the Fine arts school in Valencia. With the support of the photographer Antonio García Peris (see S950.c.201.1204), his future father-in-law, he was able to set up his first studio. Continue reading

Mariano Fortuny y Marsal: a cosmopolitan 19th-century artist

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Mariano Fortuny in 1867 by Federico de Madrazo (Wikipedia)

This year marks the 180th anniversary of the birth of Spanish painter Mariano Fortuny 1838-1874 (not to be confused with his son Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo, the fashion designer). For the first time, Madrid’s Museo del Prado held a comprehensive exhibition devoted to Fortuny, showing 169 art pieces loaned by private collectors and major museums including the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya – MNAC (Barcelona) and Museo Fortuny (Venice).

Fortuny was internationally renowned and, after Francisco de Goya (see Glendinning’s donation post), considered one of the best Spanish painters and printmakers of the 19th century.  His take on genre painting was fashionable, and collecting his art was a sign of class for the bourgeoisie, as Carlos Reyero explains in his recent book (C205.d.4208).  Fortuny had great success painting genre scenes and Moresque-inspired paintings. But at the same time he was an innovator and enjoyed the rare privilege of creating the art he wished. He was very versatile artist; he mastered all the techniques he undertook: oil painting, with precise touch often compared with Ernest Meissonier’s, and especially watercolour and etching, advancing both techniques and achieving new results. He used watercolour in a more modern way, as an autonomous art technique, and not only for preparatory works. His etchings were influenced mainly by the work of Goya, Rembrandt and José de Ribera. As he was more skilful than his contemporaries, he aroused both their envy and admiration. Continue reading

Goya’s legacy as seen through Glendinning’s eyes

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Tesoros del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, Pintura: 1400-1939 (CCA.65.118)

Over 400 new titles from the library of Professor Nigel Glendinning have been added to Cambridge University Library’s collections since they were donated in 2013.

Works on the Spanish Old Master Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) and, to a lesser extent, his predecessor Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) feature prominently in this collection.  Exhibition catalogues on European art and monographic works on 20th century art and architecture in Britain are also present. Some examples include: Ten years of British architecture, ’45-’55: an Arts Council exhibition (CCC.65.156); Modern British prints: 1914-1960 (CCC.65.105); The captured imagination: drawings by Joan Miró from the Fundació Joan Miró (CCA.65.23).

A significant number of books discuss art in the Zaragoza province (Aragón, Spain) where Francisco de Goya was born —Academicismo y enseñanza de las Bellas Artes en Zaragoza durante el siglo XVIII  (CCC.65.78); Colecciones y coleccionistas aragoneses en los siglos XVII, XVIII y XIX (CCC.65.100).

Continue reading