Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light review

3 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
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Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light review
Joaquín Sorolla 'The Pink Robe (La bata rosa)' (1916) © Museo Sorolla, Madrid

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida has slipped through the cracks. Art history can be a cruel bastard, and it’s hard to figure out where he fits in all of it: behind the Spanish painter are the waves of innovation of the French Impressionists, ahead of him is the birth of modernism, and hanging over it all are the imposing shadows of the Spanish greats, Velázquez and Goya. Bad timing, really.

Sorolla found fame by tackling big, dark social themes like infanticide, poverty and childhood disability. These enormous works elevate the struggles of the everyday to a monumental scale, but they’re not exactly beautiful paintings. Apart from the dappling of light in ‘Sewing the Sail’ and the shocking composition of ‘Sad Inheritance!’, with its ghostly, faceless disabled children, these are relatively unremarkable works.

His portraiture crumbles under the blacks, reds and greys of Velázquez and Goya, his landscapes are a bit iffy, and his depictions of people in traditional dress are just a bit naff and old-fashioned. There’s also something about his faces that leaves them looking like dressed corpses, prepared to lie in state.

But there are also moments of excellence here. Sorolla’s way with dappled light is gorgeous, particularly in the intimate image of two women in a beach cabin, or the lovely depictions of his family in the garden. The shimmering nude with its rippling pink silks is lovely, and the near-total white-out vision of his wife in bed with their newborn baby is tender and beautiful.

So Sorolla ends up being neither rigidly traditional nor particularly forward-thinking, neither exceptional nor awful, and in the process he gets a bit lost. He’s not a great painter, but he is a good one, with some great moments. Hey, we can’t all be Monets. Some of us have to be Sorollas. 



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The author who wrote this critique certainly has not studied art in any form and fails to show the minimum taste necessary to call oneself "art critic". How embarrassing, New Yorkers queued up under heavy snow back in the day only to see his paintings for God's sake. Go educate yourself before publishing an article, the exhibition is indeed truly marvelous.

Agree with all that's said below: I've long been a fan, and, as it happens, so was the above-mentioned Monet: he called Sorolla 'Le Maitre de la Lumière'. I love a lot of Monet's work but he just couldn't do light like Sorolla !

Whoever wrote this “review” should refrain from calling himself/herself an art critic. What an embarrassing way of making a fool of oneself by showing off a total ignorance of Sorolla’s talent! Sorolla might not be widely known in the UK, but he is absolutely appreciated in the rest of Europe, especially in France, Italy and, of course, Spain, let alone in the US where he was commissioned by New York’s Hispanic Society of America to paint a series of painting known as the Provinces of Spain collection which depict in a unique and beautiful way scenes of everyday life in early 20th century Spain.

Sorolla is one of the truly greats Spanish artists of all times and one of the greatest of the 19th century, you won't find anybody else depicting light as good as he does.

Eddy Frankel, I understand you need to write a critique (and I have enjoyed some of your other posts) but if you are not well up on the subject please refrain, he IS a great painter, not a just good painter gets a solo exhibition at The National Gallery.

Do not miss this exhibition, the selection of the pieces has been beautifully selected to give you a taste of all that Sorolla was, and still is. 

And if you ever find yourself in Madrid, don't miss the opportunity to visit his museum, Museo Sorolla, a lovely spot in the middle of a wonderful city.

Sorolla is one of thre greatest artists of the 19th century, far more talenetd than Monet. Do not miss this exhibition, and ingore the total ignorance of critics, who have been force-fed a view of art. They are nothing but repeaters.

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