Female Nude (Clotilde Garcia del Castillo) Joaquin Sorolla Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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This delightful nude portrait of his wife is one of many paintings of Joaquin Sorolla's family members. That said, it was rare for Clotilde Garcia del Castillo to be featured in this way as normally the portraits would be of the more traditional variety.

Desnudo de Mujer, as it would have originally been known in the artist's native Spanish language, features an entirely nude woman lying on her front upon a beautiful set of silk bedsheets. Her posture suggests she is deep in thought and her breasts are carefully shielded from our view, so as to save the modesty of the artist's wife as much as possible. She was known to be a naturally slim and beautiful woman who would model for the artist many times, and in this case she wears a simple blue cloth to tie her hair up. The silk material gives a glamorous feeling to the bedding but also perfectly reflects light around the scene, just as Sorolla liked to do in so many of his paintings. Sorolla liked to use relatively small palettes of colour but then work in many different variations of each colour, allowing for an almost endless array of subtle changes across his canvases.

The artist would keep most of his family portraits for himself, though normally dedicating them to his wife. He did not like to sell them and that explains how so many would then make it into the Sorolla Museum, as most of its collection was gifted to it by the family. This particular piece celebrated the beauty of Clotilde but was surely intended to be kept within the family so as to avoid any unfortunate individuals staring at her in an unacceptable, non-artistic manner. Sorolla would also capture his family on various holidays, with beach excursions being particularly popular. He loved the brightness brought about by the combination of bright sunshine and flickering waves that suited the palette of his later years perfectly. Earlier he had made use of darker tones too, but these would not be remembered quite as fondly by the public.

Many artists have chosen their wives and girlfriends as muses over the years and these portraits have helped us to understand their relationships better. You will notice subtle things from studying the way in which their forms are conceived and one can even compare changes over time as the relationships develop. There have been some artists who develop relationships with their models, often outside of their existing marriages, and so there has also been an element of scandal to some of them. In Joaquin's case, he was devoted to his family and was merely celebrating the beauty of his wife in this personal and intimate portrayal which takes pride of place in the Sorolla Museum in Madrid.

Female Nude (Clotilde Garcia del Castillo) in Detail Joaquin Sorolla