The Bancaja Foundation is hosting the exhibition ‘Sorolla in Black’, a unique and thought-provoking insight into the mind and talent of Joaquín Sorolla. Until 9th October 2023, the public can visit the exhibition and ponder the artist’s fascinating use of the colour black.

This exhibition, curated by Carlos Reyero, is the first time this particular reading of Sorolla’s work has been put under the magnifying glass. The showcase delves into Sorolla’s selective use of black, grey and monochrome colour, revealing a careful selection of his most captivating black-infused paintings.

‘Sorolla in Black’ is composed of around 100 pieces of Sorolla’s work, a portion of which come from the Sorolla Museum and the Sorolla Museum Foundation, while some have arrived from private collections and institutions. The collection includes a variety of works from the serenity of Sorolla’s famous seascapes and the vibrancy of clothing and everyday objects, to the raw human emotion captured in his many portraits.

Complementing the theme, the Bancaja Foundation has painted the walls a serene and sophisticated black, allowing the canvases to project outwards and highlight every brush stroke and meticulous detail. The exhibition hall space is divided into four main sections, though there are separate alcoves exhibiting photographs, colour notes, Japanese prints and even one of Sorolla’s palettes.

The section entitled ‘Monochromes’ explores the reasons behind Sorolla’s limited use of varying colours in this particular selection of paintings. Many pieces in this area incorporate the use of grey and blue tones as almost a filter that envelopes the scenes and arouses feelings of tranquillity and sophistication.

‘Black and dark surfaces’ explores black as a surface to complement other colours used in the paintings. Here, visitors can notice that the colour black has its own ‘luminosity’. Sorolla utilises this luminosity frequently in his paintings by using a ‘strongly illuminated surface’ in front of a dark tone to embolden his work and draw attention to particular elements.

Visitors can then move on to the section ‘Symbolic black’. This draws attention to Sorolla’s clever control over colour to evoke intense emotions. His portraiture often seems to convey melancholy, mystery and pensiveness, while his seascape paintings often convey tranquillity and nostalgia. Colours are essential to capture the mental state of the subjects of his paintings and the mood evoked as a holistic piece of art.

The section ‘Harmonies in black and grey’ showcases the use of black and grey shades as complimentary colours. They are ‘elegant’ and ‘discreet’ when they work together in Sorolla’s work. Combined with black, grey works to convey different expressions on the faces of those in his portraits, or the direction and hue of the light. The colour grey often highlights the distinguished and reserved personalities in the men Sorolla depicts in his portraits. However, in women, it is often sophisticated, extraordinary and often captures a sense of sensuality.

The collection of Sorolla’s paintings is an absolute must-visit for art lovers. It allows visitors to absorb the transformative power of colour and light that Sorolla so expertly captures. The exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through the works, discovering the colour black in each piece and focusing on the profound effect of this often overlooked colour. ‘Sorolla in black’ successfully captures Sorolla’s artistic brilliance and leaves a lasting impression on the world of history and art.


Report by Emily Bray

Article copyright ‘24/7 Valencia’

 Photo copyright Emily Bray/ ’24/7 Valencia’


‘Sorolla in Black’

Until October 9th

Fundación Bancaja

Plaza de Tetuán, 23

46003 Valencia (Valencia)

Tel. 96 064 58 40


Tickets are available to purchase on the door the day of visit.

Exhibition from 05/05/2023 to 09/10/2023

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

Closed on Mondays, except for public holidays and public holiday eves.

General: 7 euros.

Reduced: 4 euros (pensioners, unemployed, people with functional diversity, students from 13 to 26 years old and large families).

Free (under 12 years)

More information:

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