SEVEN years of talks with the Cuban government to bring 30 paintings by Valencia artist Joaquin Sorolla back to Spain for an exhibition to mark this year’s centenary of his death have come to nothing.

Works by Sorolla are in Havana’s Museum of Fine Art with Valencian politicians travelling to Cuba in 2016 and 2019 to secure a loan deal which also involved other regional painters.

Regional director of Culture and Heritage, Carmen Amoraga, who went to Havana four years ago, said that the Cuban government had suspended the loan, citing that the ‘international situation’ was unfavourable.

The Soralla paintings, as well as those by Valencian artists like Mariano Benlliure and Julio Vila Prades, would have been cleaned and restored at the Valencian government’s expense, which would also have covered all the transport costs to and from Cuba.

Discussions down the last few years, saw the number of Soralla paintings to be loaned reduced to just ten, with no room for the other Valencian masters.

A previous exhibition of works from Havana- personally approved by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro- ran in Madrid and Valencia galleries in 1985.

Cuba holds the third-largest collection of Sorrallas in the world, after those in Spain and the United States.

One reason put forward in some circles for Cuba’s change of heart suggest that since the island is heavily in debt, there were government fears that the paintings might not be returned and would be used as collateral.

Joaquin Sorolla was born in Valencia in 1863 and left more than 2,200 catalogued works.

He studied art at the Valencia School of Artisans and won awards in regional competitions before moving to Madrid in 1889.

His style was impressionistic with his most famous works portraying Valencian life, painted in the open air at coastal areas like Javea or inland for the palm groves of Elche.


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