One of Spain's greatest painters, and certainly the greatest of the modernists, is little known in England. Joaquín Sorolla was from Valencia, but worked all around Spain, seeking inspiration in the activities of its people, its regional festivities, and particularly, the light on its beaches. He also painted in Italy, France and the US, where he was very popular.
His paintings are full of light, life and movement (his father-in-law was a pioneer of photography and influenced the way he observed scenes). There is often an area of the painting that is more detailed than the rest and which stands out as the focus for that reason. His composition is very carefully structured but apparently effortless. The faces even of minor characters in his works contribute to the expression of the whole, reflecting their attitude to their in it, each having personality of its own. His portraits likewise are not of some bloke or some old dear sitting in a chair, but of unique individuals, perhaps of his invention, but people with life and feeling, and with something of interest to the viewer. Many of his paintings have one or more characters looking at the viewer, smiling, giggling, looking surprised, even nudging someone else and pointing, as though the painter were there in front of them.
There is currently an extensive exhibition of his work at the Prado, including many paintings never before shown in Spain. Mrs Hickory has long been a fan, so we ventured along. Take a look at him, in the flesh if you can. He was not one of the crowd, he was very definitely one of the greats.
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