Joaquin Sorolla, “Spanish Lights”. 

For anyone attending one of our two Lavender Art Retreats near Aix-en-Provence this summer, there will be an extra special added event: the Hôtel de Caumont Art Centre in Aix-en-Provence will be presenting an exhibition of the Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla, entitled Joaquin Sorolla, Spanish Lights. The exhibit runs from April 30 – October 11, 2020. This will be one of the bonuses for attendees—and this one is truly amazing!

Influential Master Painter

Joaquin Sorolla is considered to be one of the holy trinity of master artists, along with American John Singer Sargent and Swedish Anders Zorn. Like Sargent and Zorn, Sorolla had his roots in the naturalist tradition of representational art and was also greatly influenced by his Impressionist and Luminist contemporaries, including Degas and Monet. Sorolla is especially renowned for his breathtaking use of light and color—hence the title of the exhibition.

Sorolla’s outstanding work was in portraits, landscapes and monumental representations of social and historical themes. His hallmark was his dexterous use of the light of his native land. Much of his career was spent in his Mediterranean beach house in Valencia, drawing inspiration from the dazzling light glancing off the waters by his home. His beach scenes were created with distinct separation of light and shadow, luminous color, and vigorous brushstrokes.

Sorolla’s Journey. Valencia, Madrid, Rome and New York.


Like many artists of his time, Sorolla lived a colorful life. And like many successful artists of any time period, his success can be measured by his prolific output of paintings. His talent became evident while he was young, so that by the time he was eighteen he had already studied at the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia and had traveled to Madrid to closely examine the masters at the Museo del Prado. At the age of twenty-two, he was given a grant that enabled him to study in Rome for four years.

His accomplishments and fame rose over the next two decades. His 1909 exhibition in the Hispanic Society of New York gave him the exposure that resulted in a commission to paint U.S. President William Howard Taft. He was also commissioned to paint several life-size paintings representing life in his native Spain. These twelve mural-sized paintings were installed in the Hispanic Society of New York where they still hang to this day.

While many exhibitions have focused on Sorolla’s classic body of work, the Hôtel de Caumont show will highlight his method; the way in which Sorolla created his works. It will focus on three important elements: his creative process, the sources of his main themes, and the way these themes evolved in his art. While collectors and art lovers will no doubt, love what they see, artists will be especially gratified by any insight gained into his methods and the approach to his work. Artists love to decode how Sorolla captured spectacluar illumination in his paintings through his exceptional use of color.


Along with ambitious large-format pieces, smaller drawings and sketches in oils will also be shown, which shed new light on Sorolla’s approach to art. These small sketches enabled Sorolla to focus on his subjects and experiment with composition and color combinations.

 Additionally, this exhibition will also display correspondence from Sorolla, as well as photographs of himself and his entourage, shedding light on the real nature of his work and the development of his style.

The Hôtel de Caumont is a wondrous attraction all by itself. By the way, while the word “hôtel,” means “a place of lodging” in English, it has different additional meanings in French, and in this case denotes a grand estate, bigger than a regular house but not as immense as a château. The Hôtel de Caumont is certainly such a place. Completed in 1742, it went through nearly 200 years of inheritances, until it was sold to the city of Aix-en-Provence in 1964. In 2013, the Hotel was purchased by the interactive-art exhibition company CultureSpaces for €10 million and underwent two years of extensive refurbishing.

CultureSpaces is the same organization that created the spectacular attraction, Les Carrières de Lumière at Les Baux de Provence. That too, is on our itnierary. Our guests will be treated to this year’s tribute at Les Baux, which is to Salvador Dali’s surrealistic art and monumental works of Gaudi.

The Hôtel de Caumont was reopened to the public in 2015 as the paid attraction and cultural space it is today.

We discovered last year that lunch there is also an extraordinary experience!

We’ll certainly be looking forward to this exhibition by Sorolla,  one of our all-time favorite artists, and hope you’ll be able to join us.


About Aix-en-Provence.

The city of Aix-en-Provence is a historic gem. It was founded in 123 BC as a permanent Roman settlement, and current archaeological excavations in a medieval suburb of Aix have unearthed the remains of a Roman amphitheater. During the Middle Ages, Aix was the capital of Provence, and after the 12th century it became an artistic and learning center. Today, this rich history is evident everywhere you look. It is elegant, vibrant and boasts a thousand fountains, and is one of our favorite places to visit in Provence.

Photo credit:

 Blogger: Julie Snyder

Julie Snyder is a professional artist and also the programs director of Workshops In France.  A native of Scotland, she is a seasoned traveler who splits her time between California and France.  You can learn more about her role with Workshops in France here.

Check out more blogs about art workshops, tips and hacks for artists traveling in France and Scotland.

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