Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida is one of the most successful painters to delve into Modern art in Spain during the turn of the century. Him and his young sister, Concha, were born in 1863 and 1864, consecutively. Only one year after Concha was born, the siblings became orphans of both parents due to illness - most possibly cholera. The two youngsters were taken in custody of their maternal uncle and aunt who gave Bastida access to an art education from an early age. At only nine years old, he began to learn about art and painting with Academic painters such as Cayetano Capuz and Salustiano Asenjo.
As a teen, he traveled to Madrid to study the works of the past masters at the Museo del Prado. Forced to stop for military service, Bastida’s hard work gained him a grant at the age of 22 to study painting in Rome, for the next four years. In 1885, Bastida - a then Academic painter - traveled to Paris, where he came in contact with Modern painting for the first time. The young artist was deeply influenced by exhibitions of artists like Adolf von Menzel, and Jules Bastien-Lepage. He continued studying art with great painters after returning to Rome.
In 1879, Bastida met the enchanting Clotilde Garcia del Castillo while he worked in the studio of her father. They fell in love and married in 1888 after returning to Valencia, and left to live in Madrid two years later. Castillo was the artist’s muse, and they had a total of three children together. By the time Bastida and his family moved to Madrid, he was focused on producing paintings to display in art exhibits and salons across the world, including Munich, Berlin, Chicago, Paris, Madrid, and Venice. The painter focused on mythological, historical, and social subjects, working on large canvases, as well as delving into Orientalism - a theme many contemporary artists would explore.
Bastida produced many masterpieces throughout his career and was deeply praised by the public and well as the critics. In 1892, he won the gold medal for his painting Another Marguerite at the National Exhibition in Madrid. The Chicago International Exhibition acquired the very same painting and granted it with first prize, and the artwork was then donated to the Washington University Museum. Two years later, he painted Return from Fishing which shows the artists work beginning to mature. This piece was purchased by the Musée du Luxembourg after it was shown in the Paris Salon. Other notable paintings worth mentioning are; A Research and Portrait of Dr. Simarro at the Microscope - both artworks were prized pieces and shown in Madrid at the National Exhibition of Fine Arts. Bastida became an illustrious painter and was even nominated as a Knight at the prestigious Legion of Honour, after showing his work at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1900. Bastida’s artworks will forever be known as beautiful and luminous portrayals of landscapes, portraits, and historical themes, as this Academic Spanish painter mastered the Modern world of art. The artist died in 1923, at 60 years old in Madrid, Spain, and Clotilde, his widow, donated many artworks to the Spanish people. This collection of works eventually created the museum known as Museo Sorolla - in the artist’s home.