After being seen in Valencia, Seville, Málaga, Bilbao and Barcelona, the Museo Nacional del Prado is now host the exhibition Sorolla: A Vision of Spain: The Hispanic Society of America Collection. The show features fourteen murals produced by Valencian artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863 - 1923) between 1912 and 1919, in which he portrays his vision of the people and customs in a number of Spanish regions of the time. Commissioned in Paris in 1911 by art dealer Archer Milton Huntington (1870-1955) and founder of the Hispanic Society of New York, the paintings were destined for the Society’s reading gallery.
Huntington had envisioned the work depicting a history of Spain, but the painter preferred the less specific 'Vision of Spain', eventually opting for a representation of the regions of the Iberian Peninsula, and calling it The Provinces of Spain. Despite the immensity of the canvases, Sorolla painted all but one en plein air, and travelled to specific locales to paint them: Navarre, Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, Elche, Seville, Andalusia, Extremadura, Galicia, Guipuzcoa, Castile, Leon, and Ayamonte, at each site painting models posed in local costume. Each painting celebrated the landscape and culture of its region, panoramas composed of throngs of laborers and locals. By 1917 Sorolla was, by his own admission, exhausted. He completed the final panel by the middle of 1919.
Sorolla suffered a stroke in 1920, while painting a portrait in his garden in Madrid. Paralyzed for over three years, he died in 1923. The room housing the Provinces at the Hispanic Society of America opened to the public in 1926.
After his death, Sorolla's widow left many of his paintings to the Spanish public. The paintings eventually formed the collection that is now known as the Museo Sorolla, which was the artist's house in Madrid. The museum opened in 1932.
Curated by Felipe Garín and Facundo Tomàs, professors at the University of Valencia and experts on Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, this is the first time they have been removed from their original location. Each panel is 3,5 metres high and the entire cycle is 60 metres long. The murals are on a two-year loan to Bancaja as part of the travelling exhibition to a number of Spanish cities.
Museo Nacional del Prado Website