I’ve had a chance to become acquainted with the art of Joaquín Sorolla as the result of my exposure to the Hispanic Society Museum & Library over the past year. This Spanish artist, who lived from 1863 – 1923, had a style that could be described as Impressionist, and was one of Spain’s most celebrated artists at the turn of the 20th Century.
A new exhibition, titled “A Masterpiece in the Making: Joaquín Sorolla’s Gouaches for ‘Vision of Spain’” has recently opened at the National Arts Club in partnership with the Hispanic Society Museum & Library. On view are Sorolla’s rarely seen preparatory sketches for the paintings in the HSM&L’s Sorolla Gallery, “Vision of Spain.” The Sorolla Gallery houses 14 monumental paintings dedicated to Spain, where the viewer is surrounded by the peoples, costumes, and traditions of various regions in the country. The new exhibition at the National Arts Club featuring these gouache paintings is the first time these works are being exhibited in the United States.
David Doty, President of the National Arts Club, explained: “We relish this opportunity to partner with the Hispanic Society, bringing our two historic institutions together for the first time … through collaborations like this one, arts organizations find new ways to highlight great artists and their works and open new art experiences to the public.”
I have to admit, I’ve never been to the National Arts Club, and hope to make it to view the exhibition first hand. Founded in 1898, The National Arts Club has the mission to “… stimulate, foster, and promote public interest in the arts and to educate the American people in the fine arts.” Since 2019, the National Arts Club has been undergoing a renaissance, with new initiatives including an artist fellowship, an outdoor concert series, and online programming with a goal of attracting new audiences. I find it fantastic to learn that the National Arts Club gets involved in their community, with efforts such as providing therapeutic art instruction to children in the care of the Administration of Children’s Services, regularly convening New York City art leaders to share ideas and collaborate, and presenting a series of concerts in collaboration with the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, among other things. This sounds like a great organization to support!
Back to Sorolla, and a little background on his life: orphaned at the age of two, when both of his parents died in a cholera epidemic, he was raised by an aunt and her locksmith husband. His artistic talent was recognized at an early age, and he found support for artistic studies, which eventually took him to the Spanish Academy in Rome and later to Paris. In 1884, not yet 21, he exhibited his first large history painting, which was acquired by the Spanish government – that’s some serious recognition for an artist of such a young age! The gouache studies reproduced here and shown in the exhibition were done years later, when he was in his 40s.
The exhibition “A Masterpiece in the Making” opened on February 9th and runs through April 26, 2023. Admission is free and open to the public daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The National Arts Club is located in the historic landmarked Samuel Tilden Mansion at 15 Gramercy Park South in New York City. If you’ve never been or want a sneak peak inside the Samuel Tilden Mansion, and to learn more about the National Arts Club, check out their informational web page here – it looks like an amazing place to visit!