Sunday 10th April 2022 – Mike Smith
Source: press release – Ajuntament de Xàbia
The painter Joaquín Sorolla has forever a privileged place in Xàbia. On Saturday morning, on the promenade in front of La Grava beach, which from today is called Passeig del Pintor Joaquín Sorolla, a realistic, life-size bronze statue, reminiscent of the artist painting the cape of Sant Antoni, was unveiled.
Its sculptor, Javier de Benito, has created a representation of the young Sorolla who came to Xàbia looking for inspiration just over 125 years ago. It was the first of several visits over 20 years that were reflected in some of his most renowned paintings and that have an important space in his work and in his personal and family memories.
This link has been particularly highlighted in the last year by Xàbia Council, during which the Department of Culture has promoted a complete cultural and institutional programme of events to commemorate the 125th anniversary and which, it hopes, can continue into next year 2023, the 100th anniversary of the painter’s death.
Saturday was the time to reclaim the artist’s presence in public spaces and make clear his history in the municipality so that it can be remembered by residents and discovered by visitors.
The institutional act started with the musical performance of the Marinae Ensemble, whose music has merged with one of the letters that Sorolla wrote to his wife Clotilde narrating the strong impression he had upon arriving in Xàbia and discovering its light, its sea and its scenery.
Mayor José Chulvi, councillor Quico Moragues (Culture) the Minister of Finance, Vicent Soler, Finance Minister at the Generalitat Valenciana, and Antonio Mollá, great-grandson and president of the permanent commission of the Fundación Museo Sorolla, based in Madrid, participated in the inauguration.
But Mollà wasn’t the only representative of the family that watches over the artist’s legacy, which, like Sorolla’s family – his great-granddaughter Blanca Pons-Sorolla was also present – attended the tribute paid by Xàbia to the figure of one of the greatest Valencian artists of all times.
The mayor thanked this support and recognized the great work done by the sculptor Javier de Benito in his interpretation of the figure of the painter. “It was a difficult commission, because Joaquín Sorolla is a universal heritage and this makes it a particularly sensitive material, but the result could not be better,” he said.
Chulvi has affirmed that Sorolla “has earned the privilege of seeing every day the sea of the town that he appreciated so much; to let yourself be gilded every morning by the sun’s rays and share the work, the difficulties and the joys of our people”. On his promenade: “he will taste winter storms and will listen, in summer, to life in its fullness. He will be accompanied and loved every day”.
The mayor concluded by saying that “I like to think that having you here makes us better. That we xabieros have forever added a symbol of union.”