My Children 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 memorable family portrait was produced by Joaquin Sorolla in 1904. It can now be found in the Museo Sorolla in Madrid, Spain, alongside a number of other artworks from this famous artist.

Here we find Sorolla's three children - Joaquin Jr is standing on the left, whilst Maria and Elena are to the right. They are all dressed smartly, suggesting that the artist carefully planned this particular portrait and perhaps intended for the artwork to remain within the family's possession and not sold privately. He tended to do this with his family portraits, as they held a great personal connection for him and he also gave many of his self portraits to his wife as a gift. That said, despite his appreciation of this piece, he loaned it out for several exhibitions, underlining his satisfaction with it from an artistic point of view as well - it was well received. Most viewers would have made comparisons with the work of fellow Spaniard, Diego Velazquez, who styled his portraits in a similar manner, and we do know that this was one artist that Sorolla truly admired and had studied intensely whilst visiting the Prado Museum in the Spanish capital. There have also been some comparisons with the work of a friend of Sorolla, namely John Singer Sargent - see The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, for example.

Considering both Sargent and Velazquez, it is perhaps the use of space which draws the most obvious comparisons, with plenty of interest behind the three children in Sorolla's own version. Typically, most portraits or self portraits would be set up in front of a wall relatively close to the back of the subject, so as to avoid distractions and also to get a firm control over the lighting. Sorolla worked differently in that regard, and this helps us to get a better understanding of the environment of the piece. There is also a blank canvas that enters the scene from the right hand side and this again connects with the techniques of Velazquez, such as with his most famous painting of all, namely Las Meninas, in which the same technique is used in order to give the impression of the painting being constructed as we look in on the figures themselves.

Another painting, also known as My Children, would be the first family portrait by Joaquin Sorolla that he submitted to a national show. He would then enter it into several French and European salons as a signal of his delight for this particular painting. That piece from 1897 is notably brighter and more upbeat, with all three children posing more naturally amidst a decorative, well planned environment. It therefore contrasts massively with the interpretation delivered in this page, where everything is more tightly organised, and postures are carefully crafted. One would could this more of a traditional portrait, in that sense, where as the alternative from 1897 is more lively and perhaps would serve better within their own household, were they to choose not to sell it privately.

My Children in Detail Joaquin Sorolla