Literally a block away from my parents’ flat in Madrid is the Museo Sorolla. A little jewel of a museum. It is the urban palazzo of turn of the century painter Joaquín Sorolla which now houses his museum.
Once cleared the gate you are welcomed into a small refreshing garden. An oasis in the middle of downtown Madrid, surrounded by apartment buildings, shops and offices.
If being in the garden seems like a departure from the city, walking into the museum takes you to Sorolla’s beloved Mediterranean coast, where he painted most of his oeuvre. Some of the paintings are massive, but more important is the artists’ grasp of light. You see, light on the Mediterranean is quite different from light anywhere else – if you have not seen it, you will have to trust me on this one. Sorolla captures that light, that breeze, that heat, and puts it on the canvas, which is the reason he is called the “painter of light”. While some people label him an impressionist, he is beyond impressionism. The house also holds a lot of art that was given to him, his great collection of Valencia ceramic, where he was from, and many of his random knick-knacks.
Since I was a teenager, having the museum so close to home was a blessing and a curse. I did not always go into the museum, I just stayed in the garden, reading. But knowing that it was there I took it for granted and did not visit for a long time. A couple of years ago my sister Susana and I took our niece and nephew for a nice visit. This May, during a coffee run, I sneaked in for a few moments of escape.