My Daily Art Display artist of the day is the Spanish prolific painter and illustrator, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida who was born in Valencia in 1863. Both his father, also named Joaquin and his mother Concepción died of cholera when he was only two years of age, leaving him and his younger sister Concha orphaned and brought up by their maternal aunt and uncle. From an early age Joaquín acquired a great love for art and developed into a fine young artist, winning major prizes for his works at the Academy of Valencia. At the age of 18 he travelled to Madrid and spent time studying the works of art of the Masters at the Museo del Prado. Military service temporarily put an end to his art studies but on its completion, he applied for, and was granted a four year scholarship to study painting in Rome
In 1888 he returned to his home town, Valencia and married Clotilde García del Castillo a girl he had met almost nine years earlier when he was working at her father’s studio. At this time Joaquín had established himself as an artist in Spain and by the age of 30 his paintings had been exhibited in Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin and Chicago. He won numerous gold medals in major international art exhibitions and by the time the twentieth century had arrived, he was recognized as one of the world’s greatest living artist
My Daily Art Display today was Joaquín Sorolla’s painting Sad Inheritance which he completed in 1899. This was a very large oil on canvas painting measuring 284cms wide and 208cms high. The painting was in tune with Sorolla’s desire of capturing the immediacy of everyday life, warts and all. This is often termed Social Realism. Social Realist artists try to illustrate people and their lives in a realistic way and because of this it is often the case that people in their paintings are not continually shown as beautiful, attractive and happy. It is often the case that these Social Realism artists will focus on the elderly and the sick, the sad and the insane or those people who have to endure a disability.
The subject matter of the painting Sad Inheritance is a party of crippled children bathing at the sea in Valencia under the watchful eye of a monk. It was in the late nineteenth century that a polio epidemic struck the Valencia area and in the painting one can see two of the boys affected by this affliction. When Sorolla exhibited this painting in the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900 he was awarded the Grand Prix and a medal of honour. A year later he received the medal of honour at the National Exhibition in Madrid. Award after award followed for Sorolla and in 1906 following a special exhibition of over five hundred of his paintings in Paris, he was appointed Officer of the Legion of Honour. From then on Sorolla was inundated with commissions.
Sorolla suffered a paralysing stroke in 1920 and he died three years later in 1923 aged 60. His former home in Madrid is now a museum dedicated to his work.