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Meadows Museum Adds 20th Century Oil Sketch

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Categorized Under: Visual Arts

Valencia Beach, c. 1904, by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

SMU’s Meadows Museum has added an oil sketch by Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida to its collection. The picture, Valencia Beach, is a gift of Mark L. Lemmon, his wife Barbara Thomas Lemmon, and her son Michael L. Thomas.

“The painterly, spontaneous quality of Valencia Beach makes it among the finest of Sorolla’s works,” Meadows Museum Director Mark A. Roglán said in a news release. “It is the artist’s first small-scale work on panel to enter the Meadows holdings, which will make it possible for us to better present the full breadth and complexity of this acclaimed artist.”

Valencia Beach is the fourth Sorolla piece now in the collection.

Keep reading for the news release:

DALLAS (SMU) – Valencia Beach (1904 or 1905), an important oil sketch by early 20th-century Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), has been acquired by the Meadows Museum at SMU through a gift from Mark L. Lemmon, his wife Barbara Thomas Lemmon, and her son Michael L. Thomas.  The gift was made in honor of P. Gregory Warden, former faculty member of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida is one of the most significant Spanish artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  An accomplished painter of portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes of his native land, the artist is best known for his sun-filled beach scenes that take as their subject matter the play of light on various forms.  Sorolla is especially well regarded for his adept ability to paint en plein air and to work quickly and depict meticulous detail in order to create an effect specific to each subject. His influence can be seen in the work of many artists represented in the Meadows Museum collection, such as Aureliano de Beruete (1845-1912) or Eugenio Hermoso Martínez (1883-1963).

“The painterly, spontaneous quality of Valencia Beach makes it among the finest of Sorolla’s works,” said Meadows Museum Director Mark A. Roglán. “It is the artist’s first small-scale work on panel to enter the Meadows holdings, which will make it possible for us to better present the full breadth and complexity of this acclaimed artist.”

“We had discussed with Meadows School of the Arts Dean José Bowen and Mark Roglán our desire to honor Greg Warden in some fashion,” said Mark Lemmon. “When Valencia Beach came up for sale we knew it was the perfect gift, as Dr. Warden is an admirer of Sorolla.”

Valencia Beach, which will join three other paintings by Sorolla currently in the museum’s collection, is unique in its format, which is commonly referred to as an apunte.  Small in scale and rapidly painted, Sorolla’s apuntes were independent works; they were not created as preparatory designs for larger-scale paintings.  Offering a unique view into the painter’s process, these intimate works show the essence of Sorolla’s artistic achievements.

This particular painting has been identified as one of the works that was presented in February 1909 at the monographic exhibition of Sorolla’s work at The Hispanic Society of America in New York.  More than 150,000 people attended the month-long exhibition, one of the first recorded “blockbuster” attendance records in the first half of the 20th century.  The painting will be included in the forthcoming exhibition “Sorolla and America,” under development by the Meadows Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art, and Fundación MAPFRE in Madrid. Set to open in December 2013 at the Meadows Museum, “Sorolla and America” will explore the artist’s relationship with early 20th-century America by examining his immense popularity with patrons and collectors of the time.