Musings from the Meadows Curatorial Intern

Painting by Joaquín Sorolla, "Farm-House, Alcira," 1903

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923), “Farm-House, Alcira,” 1903. Oil on canvas. Meadows Museum, SMU, Dallas. Meadows Museum Purchase and Partial
Gift from Alan B. Coleman and Janet M. Coleman, MM.2012.03.

Courtesy of the Meadows Museum 2013-2014 William B. Jordan Curatorial Intern, Lauren Graves

Among the many recently acquired works at the Meadows Museum are five paintings from the Coleman collection. One of these works is Farm-house, Alcira, 1903, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), one of the most highly regarded and influential Spanish painters. This is currently the earliest painting by Sorolla that the Meadows Museum has under its roof, but soon the Sorolla and America exhibition will allow viewers to experience even more of Sorolla’s work in depth. The exhibition, opening this month, will showcase Sorolla’s fascinating relationship with the United States through his early twentieth-century paintings for the first time. As a curatorial intern at the Museum, watching the Meadows Museum staff prepare for the exhibition has been very intriguing and a great learning experience. It is an exciting opportunity to see the exhibition come to life after all of the planning and hard work that it has entailed.

This fall, Farm-house, Alcira resided in a gallery devoted to the new acquisitions from the Coleman collection. The calm blue-grey hue of the room enhances the lush green colors of the foliage in the work and brings out the oranges filling the greenery. This painting immediately caught my eye in the gallery because of its alluring shades of green and beautiful application of color. The plentiful orchard landscape depicted is located in the city of Alcira as the title suggests, situated 23 miles south of Valencia. Sorolla painted various scenes of fruit farms from regions of Valencia, but this work is one of the most praised.

The painting almost seems to be separated into two halves: the orange groves on the left and the porch of the farm house on the right, with part of the orange grove organically invading the far right side of the porch. The porch’s white beams, which are seemingly illuminated by the sun, cause the ripe oranges to radiate from the canvas. The work is very painterly and is constructed from loose brushstrokes reminiscent of French Impressionism. The porch extends away from the viewer to the right and the vantage point makes the viewer feel as if he is standing on an extension of the patio overlooking the beautiful orange grove for which the region is famous. The viewer is invited into the picture plane to experience the magnificent, yet humble, landscape. The brushstrokes and colors that create the shading on the floor of the porch, executed en plein air, appear almost in wave-like strokes, which give the appearance of the shadows coming down from the wooden beams up above. The coral shades and shadowy browns on the porch bring even more emphasis to the oranges. The transition from greenery to light blue sky is eased by the mauve and white rooftop and tree-like outline in the distance. The groves are filled with numerous shades of green and even an almost turquoise color that creates harmony with the blue sky. As the crisply painted oranges are naturally integrated throughout the orchard, the viewer’s eye is led around the work taking in the beauty of nature.

This winter, as part of the Sorolla and America exhibition, Farm-House, Alcira will be grouped in a gallery filled with other lush landscape and garden scenes, such as Asturian Landscape (Paisaje asturiano), Rose-Bay Road, Valencia, and Garden, Alcázar, Seville (from Brooklyn Museum, a private collection, and Museo Franz Mayer, respectively), just to name a few. The exhibition will encompass over one hundred and fifty works by the artist, including beach scenes, landscapes, portraits, sketches and more. These works are being lent from private collections as well as many significant institutions, which adds to the exhibition’s variety and diverse collection. All of the works included come together to display Sorolla’s undeniable talent and fondness for America. The exhibition opens at the Meadows Museum on December 13, 2013 and will close on April 19, 2014. The exhibition will continue on to the San Diego Museum of Art and the FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE in Madrid.

Sorolla and America is the first exhibition of its kind to delve into Sorolla’s relationship with the United States and will surely be an extremely unique, as well as enlightening experience for the viewer. Come and see Sorolla and America in person to fully experience this praised painter’s connection to America before the exhibition travels to San Diego!

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