Oil Portrait Masters 7
The acceptance of portrait commissions proved profitable for Sorolla, and the portrayal of his family was irresistible. Sometimes Velazquez's influence was uppermost, as in My Family (1901), a reference to Las Meinas which grouped his wife and children in the foreground, the painter reflected, at work, in a distant mirror. At other times the desire to compete with his friend John Singer Sargent was evident, as in Portrait of Mrs. Ira Nelson Morris and her children (1911). A series of portraits produced in the United States in 1909, commissioned through the Hispanic Society of America, was capped by the Portrait of Mr. Taft, President of the United States, This portrait, which was painted at the White House, is on permanent display at the Taft Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.
For studio portraits, his palette included black, burnt umber, raw umber, rose madder, burnt sienna, raw sienna, yellow ochre, Naples yellow, vermilion and cobalt blue. Occasionally he would add orange, pink or purple, but he usually emphasized strong tonal contrasts over ambitious colour effects. In the studio Sorolla would sometimes use a palette the size of a grand piano lid and 3 foot long brushes to allow him to stand back from his painting.