Joaquín Sorolla made almost 2.000 small paintings on cards or small panels, which he called “sketches”, “rough sketches” or “color notes”. He tended to carry them with him in practical boxes, along with a few paintbrushes and tubes of oil paint, and this made it easier for him to paint outdoors and quickly capture ideas and impressions of the things he had seen.
At first more intimate exercises which Sorolla gave to his friends, or preparatory tests for compositions in more regular formats, they soon became considered works, immediate expressions of the artist’s creative freedom and the ideal site for bold experimentation. Sorolla himself underscored the importance that he attached to these works by prominently including them in his international exhibitions from 1906 to 1911.
Chasing Impressions. Small-Format Sorolla presents a painstaking selection of more than 230 works characteristic of each stage in the painter’s career. This facet of his output reveals aspects that until now have been less known and valued about this great artist’s work: his small notes are astonishing for their speed and skill and the lightness of their execution, and they show an exciting zeal for experimentation, an essential, synthetic, brilliant, and bold Sorolla constantly committed to inquiring into new visual challenges.