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Meadows Museum announces Sorolla and America exhibition

The Meadows Museum announces Sorolla and America an exhibition on view December 13, 2013 – April 19, 2014.

Joaquín Sorolla, Paseo del faro. Biarritz, 1906. Óleo sobre lienzo Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Peter Chardon Brooks Memorial Collection; Gift of Mrs. Richard M. Saltonstall
Joaquín Sorolla, Paseo del faro. Biarritz, 1906. Óleo sobre lienzo Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Peter Chardon Brooks Memorial Collection; Gift of Mrs. Richard M. Saltonstall

The Meadows Museum is co-organizing Sorolla and America, the first retrospective of work by Spanish Impressionist Joaquín Sorolla to focus on the impact the artist had in the United States. The exhibition will feature nearly 160 works by Sorolla, including several of his most iconic paintings, as well as works that were purchased during the artist’s lifetime and have never been exhibited publicly.

Sorolla was internationally acknowledged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as one of the foremost Spanish painters, and rose to acclaim in America following major exhibitions of his work in the United States in the early 20th century. Those exhibitions were organized with the help of Archer Milton Huntington—founder of The Hispanic Society of America—who became acquainted with Sorolla in London in 1908. The public response to these exhibitions was unprecedented; the first exhibition Huntington arranged in New York in 1909 drew more than 150,000 visitors in one month. Later that year, that same exhibition traveled to Buffalo to the museum now known as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and to the Copley Society of Art in Boston. It also inspired a second exhibition, which traveled in 1911 to the Art Institute of Chicago and St. Louis Art Museum.

The enthusiastic reception of Sorolla’s work led to a series of portrait commissions for the artist from notable Americans including President William Howard Taft and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Because those commissions and a large portion of the work Sorolla produced for the American exhibitions quickly entered private collections, much of it has gone undocumented. Blanca Pons-Sorolla—great- granddaughter of the artist and guest curator of Sorolla and America—has worked for decades to locate these paintings and portraits. The exhibition will feature more than one hundred works that have not been publicly exhibited since they were presented in the U.S. during Sorolla’s lifetime, including more than forty works that will be publicly displayed for the first time. Together, the works offer an exceptional insight into how Sorolla inspired, and was inspired by, America.

The exhibition will be arranged thematically and will feature works representing the full range of subjects and styles for which Sorolla was renowned, including: social realism, portraits, beach scenes, gardens and landscapes, history paintings, oil sketches, drawings, and studies for decorative murals. Each work in the exhibition was either created in America, exhibited in America, or sold in America during Sorolla’s lifetime. Sorolla and America will feature works from many notable U.S. collections—including The Hispanic Society of America, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the private collection of the U.S. Department of State—as well as five Sorolla works from the Meadows’ collection. In addition to American loans, works from Mexico, Spain and other European countries will complete the exhibition.