Sorolla’s wife Clotilde was his confidant, traveling companion, bookkeeper (or in his words, "my Treasury Minister"), and muse. In this portrait, set in their Madrid home, she poses as a Spanish beauty wearing a striking evening dress. Behind her is Sorolla’s painting of a female saint, made during the first months of their marriage in 1888. At far right the artist depicted the edge of another canvas—a conceit recalling the work of seventeenth-century master and fellow countryman Velázquez. The present picture hung prominently in Sorolla’s wildly successful 1909 exhibition at the Hispanic Society of America in New York, where the Metropolitan immediately acquired it.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed: (lower left) J. Sorolla Bastida 1906; (right edge) Clotilde de Sorolla.
the artist, Madrid (1906–9; sold at Hispanic Society Exhibition to MMA)
Paris. Galerie Georges Petit. "Exposition Sorolla y Bastida," June 12–July 10, 1906, no. 406 (as "Portrait de Mme Sorolla [robe noire]").
London. Grafton Galleries. "Exhibition of Paintings by Señor Sorolla y Bastida," May–July 1908, no. 99.
New York. Hispanic Society of America. "Catalogue of Paintings by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida," February 8–March 8, 1909, no. 288.
Palm Beach. Society of the Four Arts. "Spanish Painting," January 11–February 6, 1952, no. 43.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "La Belle Époque," December 6, 1982–September 4, 1983, not in catalogue.
Liège. Salle Saint Georges. "Sorolla/Solana," October 15–December 1, 1985, no. 18.
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. "Sorolla y Zuloaga: Dos Visiones para un Cambio de Siglo," December 19, 1997–February 22, 1998, no. 37.
Madrid. Fundación Cultural MAPFRE Vida. "Sorolla, Zuloaga: Dos Visiones para un Cambio de Siglo," April 8–June 28, 1998, no. 25.
Albuquerque Museum. "Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso," August 21–November 27, 2005, no. 37.
Dallas. Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University. "Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso," December 11, 2005–February 26, 2006, no. 37.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado. "Joaquín Sorolla, 1863–1923," May 26–September 6, 2009, no. 54.
Dallas. Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist University. "Sorolla and America," December 13, 2013–April 19, 2014, no. 47.
San Diego Museum of Art. "Sorolla and America," May 31–August 26, 2014, no. 47.
Madrid. Fundación MAPFRE. "Sorolla y Estados Unidos," September 26, 2014–January 11, 2015, no. 48 (as "Clotilde con traje negro").
Munich. Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung. "Joaquín Sorolla—Spaniens Meister des Lichts," March 4–July 3, 2016, no. 37 (as "Señora de Sorolla in Black").
Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny. "Sorolla, un peintre espagnol à Paris," July 14–November 6, 2016, no. 37.
Leonard Williams. "The Portrait-Work of Joaquín Sorolla." International Studio 29 (July 1906), p. 30, notes that he saw it in the artist's studio.
Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. Letter to Pedro Gil Moreno de Mora. March 1906 [published in Ref. Tomás 2007, p. 208, no. 200], reports that he has finished painting it.
Exhibition of Paintings by Señor Sorolla y Bastida. Exh. cat., Grafton Galleries. London, 1908, p. 38, no. 99, pl. 99 (detail), refers to it as both "Señora de Sorolla" and "My Wife".
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "Principal Accessions." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 4 (April 1909), pp. 69–70.
"The Sorolla Exhibition of Paintings." The Call (February 25, 1909) [reprinted in "Eight Essays on Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida," vol. 2, New York, 1909, pp. 273–74].
Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. Letters to Pedro Gil Moreno de Mora. February 11 and 19, 1909 [published in Ref. Tomás 2007, pp. 272–74, nos. 316–17], relates that this painting has been sold to the MMA along with two others, including "The Bath, Jávea" (09.71.2).
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, p. 307.
Bernardino de Pantorba. La Vida y La Obra de Joaquín Sorolla, Estudio Biográfico y Crítico. Madrid, , p. 165, no. 1076, pl. 73.
José María Faerna García-Bermejo. Joaquín Sorolla. Barcelona, 2000, p. 9, ill. and colorpl. 50, reproduces a photograph of the Sorolla y Bastida exhibition of 1909 in New York that includes this picture; mentions a photograph of Sorolla y Bastida painting this work.
Blanca Pons-Sorolla. Joaquín Sorolla, Vida y Obra. Madrid, 2001, pp. 236, 238, 239, 309 n. 62, p. 323, ill. and colorpl. 131, reproduces a photograph of Clotilde posing for this work as Sorolla y Bastida paints it.
Mark Roglán et al. Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso. Exh. cat., Albuquerque Museum. Albuquerque, 2005, p. 200, colorpl. 37, gives the sitter's life dates as 1865–1925 in the text, and 1865–1929 in the caption; states that it was painted in the Sorolla home at Miguel Ángel Street in Madrid, with the artist's painting "Meditation" in the background.
Facundo Tomás et al., ed. Epistolarios de Joaquín Sorolla. Vol. 1, Correspondencia con Pedro Gil Moreno de Mora. Barcelona, 2007, pp. 207–8, 272–74, nos. 200, 316–17, ill.
José Luis Díez and Javier Barón inJoaquín Sorolla, 1863–1923. Ed. José Luis Díez and Javier Barón. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2009, pp. 35, 87.
Carlos G. Navarro inJoaquín Sorolla, 1863–1923. Ed. José Luis Díez and Javier Barón. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2009, p. 210, notes that "Praying Saint" (Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid), depicted behind Clotilde, was a treasured painting always hung in the artist's home.
José Luis Díez inJoaquín Sorolla, 1863–1923. Ed. José Luis Díez and Javier Barón. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2009, pp. 283, 352–54, 380, no. 54, ill. (color), notes that Clotilde was Sorolla's favorite model, adding that many of her portraits, including this one, were intended for public display; reproduces a charcoal drawing (present location unknown) showing an alternate pose.
Blanca Pons-Sorolla inJoaquín Sorolla, 1863–1923. Ed. José Luis Díez and Javier Barón. Exh. cat., Museo Nacional del Prado. Madrid, 2009, p. 493.
Clotilde de Sorolla, the wife of the painter, was the daughter of his friend and patron Don Antonio García.