Jean - Luc Baroni Ltd

Yoaquin Sorolla


Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

Valencia 1863-1923 Madrid



Portrait of the Painter Francesco Santoro, Rome 1887

Oil on canvas. Signed, dated and inscribed: A mi querido/ amigo Santoro/ J. Sorolla/ 87 and bears inscription on the verso: Francesco Santoro/ 32 via Porta Pinciana, Roma

76 x 48.5 cm (30 x 19 in.)

In this magnificently free and confident portrait, Sorolla has captured the striking appearance and force of personality of his fellow painter Francesco Santoro (1844-1927). The two artists met in Rome where Santoro arrived in 1886, having received a scholarship to study. Later that year he went for the first time to Paris, invited by his friend and patron Pedro Gill Moreno de Mora. There his greatest admiration was reserved for the work of Edouard Manet; this portrait with its powerful draughtsmanship and bravura colour brushwork expresses the explosive effect the visit to Paris had on this young painter who here, at the age of 24, has produced a work of such extraordinary technical power and maturity.

From the time of his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1906, Sorolla’s brilliant technique, his magical application of paint to canvas, made him the internationally admired, pre-eminent Spanish Impressionist that he is still known as. An orphan from an early age, his upbringing was simple but he won a place at the Academy of Art in Valencia at 15, and moved to Madrid a few years later to finish his studies. The interludes in Rome and in Paris were hugely formative and he returned to Valencia in 1888 to paint historical and social realist works on a grand scale before developing his own form of sun-drenched bravura Impressionism. In 1909 he was invited to hold an exhibition in the Hispanic Society in New York. This huge show launched him successfully in America and led to numerous portrait commissions. Sorolla’s own family and friends were often the subject of his work.  Sorolla’s widow, Clothilde, bequeathed his house, studio and gardens in Madrid, together with an important archive of documents and letters, to the Spanish nation to be a museum and foundation.

We are grateful to Dr Blanca Pons-Sorolla Ruiz de la Prada for her identification of the sitter as Francesco Raffaello Santoro and for her confirmation of the early dating of 1887, the period of Sorolla’s studying in Rome. The painting will be included as no. BPS 4933, Retrato del pintor Francesco R. Santoro, in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Sorolla’s work. Dr Pons Sorolla also kindly informed us of details of Sorolla’s first visit to Paris on the invitation of Pedro Gil Moreno di Mora, who knew many of the artists working in Paris at the time and who understood what a critical centre it was for artistic developments. Her knowledge of the Sorolla archives also allowed Dr Pons Sorolla to identify evidence of the friendship between Francesco Santoro and Sorolla in the form of a photograph of a painting by Francesco Santoro fixed to a piece of card and given to Sorolla, a scene of mourning figures in an interior, with the card signed, dated and dedicated: Al egregio artista Sig. Soroglia, Francesco Santoro/ 3 Gen 1887.

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