Experience the blended beauty of art, history and Spanish culture.
Carmen Thous inspects the veiny leaves in front of her before going back to her canvas. A quick decision flashes across her face, and the brush dips into jade green paint. Surrounding her are men and women, visibly younger, scattered along stone paths, and twisting greenery creating artwork of their own.
Thous is hosting her weekly painting class for the Complutense University of Madrid students in the front gardens of Museo Sorolla. Nested in the grand Almagro, Madrid, the museum conserves Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla’s house.
Front gardens welcome visitors, brimming with trees that provide pockets of shade relieving the intense sun. Bushels of cerise-shaded flowers line the pale stone pathways leading up to a mustard brick mansion.
Through the museum’s doors, lofty crimson walls, painted with Sorolla’s life work, meet restored wooden beams. Natural light streams from a series of skylights once used by Sorolla to create his art. Visitors are transported back to the 1800s, weaving through well-preserved rooms that pay tribute to Sorolla’s life and art. The rooms include a living, dining, and business room (sold paintings here) and a studio.
After Sorolla’s death, his wife, Clotilde García del Castillo, released the house and wealth of collections to the Spanish state. It wasn’t until 1932 that its doors officially opened as a museum to the public.
Known for his travels and collections, Sorolla acquired dozens of rare items now displayed on worn hickory furniture. People can find striking statues, ceramic vases, ornate rigs and other small trinkets.
Sorolla spent most of his life as an Impressionist, excelling in landscapes, beaches, and portraits. His wife was a constant muse and source for inspiration and success. He studied under several teachers, including: Cayetano Capuz and Salustiano Asenjo, before traveling to Madrid to study the masters of the Museo del Prado and Rome for the Spanish Academy.
He was born February 27, 1863, and died August 10, 1923, making the late 18th century/early 19th century his most influential period.
The artist has no shortage of famous works, but El Baño Del Caballo (The Horses Bath) is undoubtedly renowned. The piece depicts a pale nude man leading a large white horse out of the ocean. Streaks of unblended color somehow come together in harmony, reflecting his mastery of the Impressionist style. The works overarching calmness communicates the peaceful sound of waves crashing against the sandy Valencia shores where Sorolla painted this.
The 1890s brought a new wave of creativity to Sorolla’s career as he transitioned from soft Impressionist work to darker themes of social realism. Trata de Blancas (White Slave Traffic,) which draws from the prominent prostitution and slavery of women and hangs among the museum’s seas of work, reveals his exceptional talent in realism.
In contrast to his profound Impressionism period, Trata de Blancas (White Slave Traffic,) which draws from the prominent prostitution and slavery of women at the time and hangs among the museum’s seas of work, reveals his exceptional talent in Realism. Five women of ranging ages lay sleeping, limbs overlapping, cramped in a dim wooden backroom, like porcelain dolls in anguish.
When asked about her favorite paintings, a museum worker says, “Whew. There’s too many to decide. My favorite is Cosiendo la Vela, and it’s in a museum palace in Venice, Italy. Then there are the most famous paintings. Well, it’s in New York. The 14 Paintings (The Vision of Spain.)”
- Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 37, 28010 Madrid
- Closed Mondays
- Regular Hours: 9:30 AM-8 PM,
- Sunday: 10AM-3PM
- Individual Ticket 3 Euros ($3.42 with a conversation rate X 1.14)
The Vision of Spain was a series Sorolla created for the Hispanic Museum and Library in New York City. The collection was commissioned by The Hispanic Society founder, Archer Milton Huntington, in 1911 and has maintained its status as a proud emblem of Spanish tradition.
The home of Joaquín Sorolla has become a time machine allowing visitors to float through rooms of rich Spanish history and culture. Most importantly, the exquisite work of Sorolla’s life. There are not many places like Museo Sorolla that can perfectly immerse people into history.
George lived in Madrid for six weeks.