Sorolla and Fashion sets out a journey through the world of fashion from the era of Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923) via his paintings, particularly the female portraits he created between 1890 and 1920.
In recent years, thanks to the publication of monographs and studies and the holding of exhibitions, there has been more analysis on the different facets of Joaquín Sorolla’s work, including the importance of the portrait, to such a degree that some of his works are now considered essential to the history of Spanish portraiture: from his portraits done inside, which reveal his admiration of Velázquez (such as in La Familia, 1901, at this exhibition) to his portraits in the open air, which were his main contribution to this genre. Sorolla left us an admirable and large gallery of characters, ranging from aristocrats, writers, scientists and artists, as well as friends and members of his own family.
Joaquín Sorolla was an enthusiastic spectator, capable to capturing the beauty of people in street life, and very attentive to changes in fashion, elegance and social manners. His portraits are a catalogue of period clothing, and we can see the detail of the fabrics, the shine of the silks, the rich textures of the velvets and lace but, above all, the style, bearing and grace of the figures that fashion has created in its constant evolutions. In his trips to Paris, Sorolla took advantage of leisure time to do one of his favourite things: buy clothing for his wife and two daughters.
In the last third of the 19th century, a person's external appearance was considered a manifestation of their inner character. This is why clothing played such an important role, and the smallest detail was revelatory of the person's identity. Thus, the ‘art of elegance’ had an even greater value than beauty for some mindsets of that period. In Spain, the pages of publications like La vida galante, La Moda Elegante, Blanco y Negro and La Ilustración took great efforts to keep end-of-century Spanish women up to date on ‘what is being worn’, giving cutting edge news on the latest trends.