The exhibition brings together 61 photographs reflecting Spain at the time of the painter by photographers such as Charles Clifford, Jean Laurent, Kurt Hielscher, Anna M. Christian, Ruth Matilda Anderson, Sebastián Creuset and Rafael Garzón. ‘Essential Photography in Sorolla’s time’ is an exhibition comprising 61 photographs that reflect the Spain that the painter of light lived through and that allude to the close relationship he maintained with this discipline. The exhibition, curated by the head of Culture at the Bancaja Foundation, Laura Campos, takes place as part of the Sorolla Year celebrations commemorating the centenary of his death, and also coincides with the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the new Bancaja Foundation.

The photographs are mostly from the photographic collections of the Hispanic Society of America on permanent deposit at the Fundación Bancaja, in addition to some from the Sorolla Museum. The images show scenes of cities, monuments, customs, traditions and characters that bear witness to the natural and ethnographic heritage of Spain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The documentary and anthropological value of these images is complemented by the unique way in which famous photographers of the period, such as Charles Clifford, Jean Laurent, Kurt Hielscher, Anna M. Christian, Ruth Matilda Anderson, Sebastián Creuset and Rafael Garzón, among others, approach capturing the Spain of the time.

The tour of the exhibition begins with the Sorolla and photography section, with images showing the artist painting in  Malvarrosa, accompanied by his family in Jaca or on the steps of the entrance to the Hispanic Society of America building in New York, as well as photographs that recall the cultural environment in which he lived in Spain, with figures such as López Mezquita, Unamuno, Alfonso XIII and the founder of the Hispanic Society of America, Archer Milton Huntington.

Next, a space is dedicated to Ruth Matilda Anderson, with images taken by this photographer who was commissioned by Huntington at the beginning of the 20th century to travel around different regions of Spain to capture scenes of urban and rural life. These images, taken between 1923 and 1930, are now a valuable testimony to a now forgotten reality in the towns and villages of Galicia, Castile, Extremadura, the Canary Islands and Andalusia.

The exhibition culminates with a section on The Hispanic Society of America and photography, which includes the photographs of Anna M. Christian, a photographer, a distinguished and wealthy lady of New York high society, traveller and friend of Sorolla, who toured Spain in 1915. Her photographs, together with those of Ruth Matilda Anderson, formed a documentary collection that faithfully reflects the cultural and human environment of Joaquín Sorolla at the time when he was immersed in the making of Vision of Spain. In addition to these scenes, there are emblematic photographs of Valencia with landscapes such as Malvarrosa beach, Godella seen in the exoticism of its caves and the Casa de la Duquesa de Pinohermoso in Xàtiva.

The legacy of these two outstanding women photographers is completed in this exhibition with images by the German photographer Kurt Hielscher taken on his tour of Spain between 1914 and 1918, and with a series of shots by foreign photographers (Charles Clifford, Georgiana Goddard King, Winocid, Jean Laurent, Emilio Beauchy) and Spaniards (Rafael Garzón, Josep María Cañellas, Guillem Bestard, Antonio García Peris and Díaz) that reflect the views and customs of cities such as Seville, Málaga, Granada, Guadalajara, Madrid, Toledo, Martorell, Valencia, Segovia, Soria, Huesca, Valladolid and Zamora.

The exhibition includes the screening of a fragment of the report Sorolla in his paradise, produced by RTVE for the programme ‘The Adventure of Knowledge’, which analyses the close relationship between the painter and photography.

As part of the cultural and artistic mediation programme, the Bancaja Foundation will offer guided tours for the general public and groups led by an expert specialist in art and cultural mediation. The exhibition ‘La fotografía esencial en tiempos de Sorolla’ can be visited at the Bancaja Foundation’s headquarters in Valencia (Plaza Tetuán, 23) from 28 November to 4 February 2024.

Sorolla and photography

For Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), photography was an essential tool in his life and professional career. His first contact with this discipline was in the photographic studio of Antonio García Peris, a renowned Valencian photographer with whom he forged a strong personal bond, first as a pupil and later as a family member, as Sorolla married his daughter Clotilde.

This initial contact with photography was consolidated throughout his successful career, both privately, capturing a multitude of family and personal scenes with his lens, and professionally, using photographic fidelity and detail to document his work or to contemplate other works of art as a source of inspiration.

The documentary value of photography was particularly relevant in one of Sorolla’s most famous creations: the commission from the Hispanic Society of America in New York for the Vision of Spain panels. An ambitious project that led the Valencian artist to travel all over Spain with his camera to finally capture the most emblematic customs and traditions of Spain on 14 masterly canvases.

Report by Will McCarthy

Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’


Exhibition:’Essential photography in Sorolla’s time’

Date from 29/11/2023 to 04/02/2024

Fundación Bancaja

Plaza de Tetuán, 23 ,


Tlf. 96 064 58 40 / 628 11 99 93


Opening hours

Tuesday to Sunday: from 10 am to 2 pm and from 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm.

Mondays closed, except for public holidays and the eve of public holidays.

Open from Tuesday to Sunday: from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Closed Mondays, except public holidays and the eve of public holidays.


Christmas opening hours:

24 December: from 10 am to 2 pm.

25th December: closed.

31 December: from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

1 January 2024: closed.

Tickets are purchased at the entrance.

General: 5 euros.

Reduced: 3 euros (pensioners, the unemployed, people with functional diversity, students from 13 to 26 years old and large families).

Free (under 12 years).



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