Joaquín Sorolla’s, Vision of Spain, As a Map of Regional Identity in Spain

KoreyAnne Smith


Spain has developed many different regional identities in each of its autonomous communities over the years. These identities exemplify the origins of the country and its regional evolution. When reflecting on quintessential perceptions of national Spanish identity, we often think of flamenco dancing, bullfighting, and siestas; however, these symbols better identify the existing regionalism in Spain, rather than some national idea of the country as a whole. Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), who was a Spanish impressionist painter, completed his masterpiece, the Vision of Spain in 1919, after working on it for eight years. This extensive piece of work serves as a map of the significance of Spanish regionalism, giving proof to the idea that humans may choose to identify with regionalism more than with nationalism. The fourteen unique canvases represent Spain through many cultural traditions and impose an interdisciplinary perspective, based on art history, geography, and sociopolitical thought. For example, in the Castilian region of Spain, at the heart of the country, Sorolla depicts a little known harvesting tradition, whereas for Seville, in Southern Spain, some of the most distinctive Spanish customs, such as flamenco dancing and bullfighting, are portrayed. This is because these are the homes of these respective traditions. According to art historian Felipe Garín, “[The idea] was intended to express iconic, popular scenes, the substance that each region or district identified with and what constituted it as such” (Garín). By revealing these aspects in my research, I have given evidence to the regional evolution in Spain and created a correlation between art history and Spanish culture. The aberrant idea of regional identity in a country typically considered to hold the groundwork of a shared national identity can be reversed with the material presented in Sorolla’s masterpiece.

Garín, Felipe, and Facundo Tomás. "La Visión De España De Joaquín Sorolla Noventa Años Después." Visión De España: Colección De La Hispanic Society of America. N.p.: Fundación Bancaja, 2007. 50. Print.


Spain; Regionalism; Identity

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