Elena in Cove, San Vicente, Mallorca (1919)

THE Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) was hugely celebrated in his lifetime, then slightly overlooked. In recent years, major exhibitions across Europe served as a reminder as to how exceptional he was. This year, in commemoration of the centenary of his death, the impressionist master is getting the limelight and accolade he deserves with a series of exhibitions.

Born in Valencia, some of his best-loved works feature seascapes, children in water, fishermen and boats, all made wonderful by his unique way of capturing sunlight on water. No-one else comes close in conveying the light of southern Spain.

But he travelled widely through Spain, painting landscapes, adobe houses and alcazars; and people on the patios of their homes doing normal things, such as playing guitar, and – in one of his masterpieces, mending sails.

Mending Sails

Sorolla studied at the San Carlos Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Valencia in 1881, and by his late teens had already had works exhibited in the Exposición Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid. He honed his craft, studying the masters at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, in Paris studying impressionism, and in Rome where he met his wife Clotilde Garcia del Castillo, who (with his children) features in much of his work. He died on August 10 in Madrid, and his body was taken back to Valencia, the region with which he’ll always be most closely linked.

In the days before photography, his landscapes conjured up the spirit of different areas of Spain for people who perhaps would never travel there. Today, part of the joy of his paintings is to look at them and be instantly reminded of what it felt like to be there.

So here is a virtual tour through some of his very greatest works.

Idyll, Javea (1900)

On San Sebastian Beach (1900)

Guitar Players, Valencia (1889)

Field in Asturias (1903)

Sierra Nevada, Granada (1917)

Fountain in the Alcázar of Seville (1908)

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