Valencia, 1863-Cercedilla, Madrid, 1923
Oil on canvas, 103.5 x 125.5 cm
Contributed by the City Council of Bilbao in 1913
Joaquín Sorolla’s artistic beginnings are connected to the academicism prevailing in Spain in the late nineteenth century. In 1879 he trained at the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia and from there moved to Madrid in 1881, where he discovered the oeuvre of Velázquez, which made a deep impression on him. Having obtained a grant he was able to settle in Rome during the first months of 1885, and subsequently moved to Paris, where he would be greatly influenced by the artistic avant-garde. During the decade of 1890 he produced genre paintings and works that focused on social criticism, followed by experiments based on the predominance of flat light that distanced him from Impressionist painters and earned him international acclaim, especially with his beach scenes. Sorolla’s career was confirmed in Madrid, where he settled in 1890. Kissing the Relic belongs to a period in which his own personal style was beginning to evolve, bringing together his past experience and achieving notable successes: a third-class medal at the Parisian Salon, the same distinction at the 4th International Salon in Vienna in 1894 and then a first medal at the Exhibition of Spanish Art in Bilbao. During this period Sorolla based his compositions on his skill as a draughtsman, his meticulous descriptions and wise use of light and colour in genre scenes (some of them anecdotal) connected to bourgeois taste. In this work a procession of faithful is reverently awaiting to kiss the relic held by the parish priest in a side chapel of the San Pablo church in Valencia. This act of veneration marks the end of the mass and is the opportunity taken by an altar boy to sell religious pictures—the scene is therefore a fine example of genre painting. [J.N.G]
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Cristóbal Balenciaga (Guetaria, Guipúzcoa, 1895–Valencia, 1972) is one of the most important designers in fashion history. He was born in the small coastal town of Guetaria, in the province of Guipúzcoa, where his mother worked as a seamstress. At the tender age of 13, Balenciaga copied a dress belonging to the Marquesa (Marchioness) of Casa Torres. After such a precocious start, the Marquesa became his patron and sent him to Paris to train in haute couture.
En 1913 he opened his own studio in San Sebastian, which was at the time one of the aristocracy’s favourite holiday resorts. The success of his creations, instantly recognizable by the geometric beauty of their cut, his profound understanding of the fabrics he used and the exquisite harmony of his colour ranges helped him to perfect his craft and soon encouraged him to open boutiques in Barcelona and Madrid. This early experience in dressmaking left an indelible mark on his idea of couture, to be seen clearly in the superb cut that characterizes his creations and the masterly handling of the quality of the finest fabrics.
In 1937 he decided it was time to step into the international fashion arena, which he did by opening a boutique for haute couture at number 10 on Paris’s chic avenue George V. Over three decades in the capital of the fashion world, Balenciaga reigned supreme as the ultimate benchmark in haute couture; every collection came replete with innovations as he continued on an obsessive search for a feminine ideal of perfection and elegance. In Paris he also forged the legend of himself as the ultimate hermetic male who shunned high-powered social events. This was his way of drawing attention to himself and earning the admiration of international fashion critics and the loyalty of a clientele of high-society women from Europe and the United States. Balenciaga’s undisputed predominance lasted until May 1968, when he closed all his salons, as prêt-à-porter took the fashion world by storm.
Balenciaga. Designing the limits contains 35 examples of haute couture from the collections of the Basque regional government, the Cristóbal Balenciaga Foundation, and two private collections in the Basque Country and Madrid. The exhibition is an exceptional staging divided into seven different ambiences, taking visitors on a fascinating itinerary of the creations of one of the greatest fashion designers to have graced the golden age of haute couture.
Babeslea • Patrocinador • Sponsor
12|10|14 • 04|20|15
THE GUEST WORK
01|13|15 • 04|13|15
02|10|15 • 05|18|15
10|28|14 • 02|09|15
10|07|14 • 01|19|15
09|23|14 • 01|12|15