Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863 – 1923) exhibited a unique method of impressionistic naturalism in his painting The Blind Man of Toledo of 1906. His impressionistic process was derived from his training in Valencia, Spain with the Spanish Impressionists Francisco Domingo y Marqués and Ignacio Pinazo y Camarlench. Through their lessons at the Valencian Academy, Sorolla learned how to portray intense sunlight by using saturated pigments and creating contrasting shadows. Moving beyond Valencia, the artist traveled to Madrid to copy the works of the Spanish Baroque painter Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez. Afterwards, he visited Paris to study the paintings of the French Naturalist painter Jules Bastien-Lepage. Sorolla developed his naturalistic traits by studying Velázquez’s color palette and Bastien-Lepage’s detailed presentation of nature. These elements enabled Sorolla to capture of Spanish landscapes with the impressionistic pigments utilized by the Valencian Academy. The color techniques of his mature style, seen in The Blind Man of Toledo, align with the color theory developed by the French art critic and color theorist Charles Blanc. While in Paris, Sorolla encountered the 1867 publication Grammaire des Arts du Dessin. Sorolla’s chromatic naturalism, accurate representations of Toledo’s culture, and references to light phenomena in his painting are key traits of Blanc’s color theory. Thus, Sorolla’s The Blind Man of Toledo clearly reveals how the artist used Blanc’s definition of naturalistic color to develop his impressionistic naturalism.

Date of publication

Spring 5-4-2021

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Elizabeth A. Lisot-Nelson Ph.D., Kaia L. Magnusen, Ph.D., Colin Snider, Ph.D.


Masters in Art