Thursday, June 27, 2013

Oil Study: May They Rest in Peace -- Up There

The day before, I went to American Hispanic Society Museum to worship one of my gods Joaquin Sorolla Y Bastida again. Right across from the Museum there is a cemetery. The view was very interesting. All the graves were on a terrace which was much higher that the wall surrounding the cemetery. They looked kind of eerie from the street. So I took a picture and made a painting of it today.
In the Museum, I met an art student who came from Spain to study for a month with the Art Students League of New York. He had been spending five days copying his fellow countryman Joaquin Sorolla's After the Bath, which is also one of my favorites. If you like painting sunshine and water, you shouldn't miss that one. I have included the painting below. If you like to see more of his paintings. Here is a link which includes many of his important works:

After the Bath
Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923)
Oil on canvas
176 x 111.5 cm

Painted at a Valencian beach in the summer of 1908, After the Bath is without doubt one of Sorolla's most magnificent and memorable works. Ever since it was first exhibited at the Hispanic Society in 1909, it has elicited admiration. Sorolla again demonstrates his technical mastery in his rendering of the translucent fabric that clings to the young woman's flesh, still wet from her dip in the sea. The brilliant tonalities found within the white backdrop cloth protectively held by the straw-hatted youth—possibly one of those seen in Children on the Beach and Beach of Valencia by Morning Light—are similarly impressive.

Although this female described as "a young Greek goddess emerging from the sea," has evoked thoughts of a Hellenistic sensibility in Sorolla's subconscious, the scene would have been familiar and quite routine at Valencia's Mediterranean shore. Nonetheless, several features evoke memories of classical art: above all the young woman's canonically determined height (seven and a half heads) and the wet folds of the dress she clasps together at her shoulder. Rather than an image of hedonistic eroticism or a pagan Valencia as some have interpreted it, perhaps the canvas should be considered as Sorolla's vision of contemporary reality of health, happiness and strength to he derived from sea and sun.
Text and images © Hispanic Society of America.

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