Matías Sorzano Nájera (1775-1862) was a highly influential and renowned character in the town of Orihuela, where he was a trader in colonial goods and a property administrator. His portrait is a splendid example of Vicente López's artistic maturity and reveals the painter's desire to assimilate the new Romantic trends prevailing in official art circles and in the tastes of the wealthy clientele during the reign of Isabel II of Spain. In this sense he pays greater attention to the domestic atmosphere surrounding his characters, set in interiors shrouded in semi-darkness, usually beside great gathered draperies and large windows through which the light is directed to underscore their vital presence. In this composition the master displays the full extent of his talent in the gentleman's face, with his bright watery eyes, in the shape of his hands and in the iridescent pleats of his waistcoat. He also shows a surprising command of the effects of light on his fingers, resting on the dossiers, on his spectacles cord that is slightly visible over his shirt and on the subtle gradation of the shutter. The painstaking description of the man's wrinkles, his eyebrows and sideburns, the shine on his nails and on his shirt collar, the delicate and undulating impression of the pleats in the material, not to mention the depiction of the documents and the sky, testify to the painter's virtuosity at the age of sixty eight.
After having trained initially in his hometown, Vicente López moved to Madrid in 1780 to attend the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. Appointed first chamber painter by Ferdinand VII in 1815, López dedicated much of his oeuvre to the portrait genre –the most famous of his portraits is Francisco de Goya, painted in 1826. He was exceptionally gifted in attaining the likenesses of his sitters and in rendering the nuances of fabrics and objects. In addition to portraits, he also produced decorative and religious works, designs for projected monuments and drawings for engraving. [J.L.D.]
José Luis Díez. De Goya a Gauguin : el siglo XIX en el Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. [Cat. exp.]. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2008, pp. 103-105, n.º 5, ad vocem.
José Luis Díez. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 92, n.º 64, ad vocem.