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The National Gallery 2019 spring exhibitions

Issued May 2018


Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light
18 March – 7 July 2019
Admission charge


Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life
28 February –19 May 2019
Admission free


18 March  – 7 July 2019

Sainsbury Wing
Admission charge

In spring 2019 the National Gallery will stage the first exhibition in the UK for over a century of the work of the Spanish artist Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863–1923). The most complete exhibition of the artist’s paintings outside Spain, 'Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light' will include portraits, landscapes, and the seascapes, garden views, and bather scenes for which he is most renowned, and genre scenes of Spanish life.

'Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light' will provide a rare opportunity for visitors to see more than sixty works spanning the artist’s career, including important masterpieces on loan from public and private collections in Spain and the United States. It features the monumental canvases on social themes which the artist strategically sent to major exhibitions around the world in the 1890s and with which he established his reputation. The last exhibition dedicated to the artist in the UK was in 1908 when Sorolla himself, then among the most famous living artists, mounted a major exhibition at London’s Grafton Galleries.

There are few works by Sorolla in UK public collections, yet the work of this spirited and technically gifted painter, sometimes referred to as Spain’s Impressionist, resonates with the National Gallery’s collection of Spanish Old Masters, Velázquez and Goya, and the work of Sorolla’s contemporaries across Europe, including Sargent and Monet.

Exhibition organised by the National Gallery and the National Gallery of Ireland


28 February – 19 May 2019

Room 1
Admission free

Paintings from a British private collection, never previously displayed or published, will be shown at the National Gallery in spring 2019, in the first exhibition in the UK devoted to Louis-Léopold Boilly, one of the most important artists of revolutionary France.

Forming the core of the exhibition, these 20 works represent the highlights of Boilly’s long career in Paris, from 1785 to the 1830s, where he witnessed the French Revolution, the rise and fall of Napoleon, and the Restoration of the French Monarchy.

The exhibition will show, through meticulously executed, detail-rich paintings and drawings, Boilly’s daring responses to the changing political environment and art market and his acute powers of observation and wry sense of humour.

Having painted intimate and controversially seductive interior scenes for an elite audience which saw the artist get into trouble with the authorities, Boilly’s art changed considerably with the Revolution. The interior views for private patrons, with simple compositions containing one or two figures, gave way to pieces intended for public exhibition, including ambitious urban vistas. In these street scenes, Boilly became the first French artist to paint views of everyday life on Paris’s streets and boulevards.

The exhibition will include drawn and painted portraits, both of private clients and of his own family, and will look at Boilly’s engaging contribution to trompe l’oeil (a term that he himself invented for his submission to the Salon of 1800 where he used the art technique to "deceive the eye" through realistic imagery that creates the illusion that depicted objects exist in three dimensions). These works emphasise the revolutionary aspect of Boilly’s work: that he was not only working in a politically turbulent period, but also that he was actively involved in turning representation – and especially the relationship between different media – on its head.

The exhibition will introduce an artist who is little known in Britain, and will provide unparalleled context for the one painting by Boilly in the National Gallery’s Collection.


For further information, please contact the National Gallery Press Office on 020 7747 2865 or email

Publicity images can be obtained from