Mediterranean Sea

Joaquim Sunyer i de Miró

Sunyer i de Miró, Joaquim

Sitges, 1874 - 1956

Mediterranean Sea, c. 1910-1911

© Joaquín Sunyer, VEGAP, Madrid, 2017

Signed lower right: ''Sunyer''
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Oil on canvas

85,5 x 130 cm

CTB.1996.57

Artwork history

  • Artist´s Collection.

  • Estate of the artist´s family (by descent).

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection.

1911

Exposició de les obres de Joaquim Sunyer, Barcelona, Faianç Català, n. 25.

1911

Joaquim Sunyer, Múnich, Brakls Moderne Kunsthandlung, n. 13.

1959

Joaquim Sunyer, Barcelona, Junta de Museos de Barcelona, Palau de la Virreina, n. 11.

1974

Joaquim Sunyer. Antológica, Madrid, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, n. 15.

1983

Joaquim Sunyer, 1874-1956, Barcelona, Centre Cultural de la Caixa de Pensions, n. 21.

1983 - 1984

Joaquim Sunyer. 1874-1956, Madrid, Sala de Exposiciones de la Caja de Pensiones, n. 13.

1991

Picasso, Miró, Dalí und der Beginn der spanischen Moderne / Picasso, Miró, Dalí y los orígenes del Arte Contemporáneo en España, Fráncfort, Schirn Kunsthalle; Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, n. 173, p. 326.

1994 - 1995

El Noucentisme. Un Projecte de Modernitat, Barcelona, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, n. 485, p. 323.

1996

De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 92, p. 234.

1997

Capolavori dalla Collezione di Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza: 60º anniversario dell'apertura della Pinacotecca di Villa Favorita, Lugano, Villa Favorita, n. 113, p. 288.

1997

Del vedutismo a las primeras vanguardias. Obras maestras de la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bilbao, Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, n. 51, p. 168.

1998

La pintura española del cambio de siglo en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Zaragoza, Palacio de Sástago, n. 33, p. 110.

1998

Os 98'ibéricos e o Mar, Lisboa, Exposiçâo Mundial de Lisboa. Pavilhâo de Espanha, p. 196.

1999

Joaquim Sunyer. La construcción de una mirada, Barcelona, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya; Madrid, Fundación Cultural Mapfre Vida, n. 45, p. 180.

2001 - 2002

Forma. El ideal clásico en el arte moderno, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 31, p. 204, lám. p. 95.

2002 - 2003

Le stanze dell'arte. Figure e immagini del XX secolo, Rovereto / Trento, Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, p. 216.

2003

Desnudo. Una tradición moderna en el arte español, Granada, Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta, p. 86.

2003 - 2004

Mujeres pintadas. La imagen de la mujer en España. 1890-1914, Madrid, Fundación Cultural Mapfre Vida, n. 49, p. 184.

2004

Pintura catalá do Naturalismo ao Noucentisme. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Santiago de Compostela, Fundación Caixa Galicia, n. 34, p. 110 & cover.

2004

Pintura catalana del Naturalismo al Noucentisme. Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 61, p. 170, lám. & cover.

2004 - 2005

Gauguin y los orígenes del simbolismo, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Sala de las Alhajas, n. 176, p. 307.

2008 - 2009

Entre dos siglos. España 1900, Madrid, Fundación Mapfre.

2010

De Gaudí a Picasso, Valencia, Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, p. 204, lám. (detail p. 194).

2011

La tradición moderna en la Colección Carmen Thyssen. Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, p. 104, lám. p. 105.

2012 - 2013

Rusiñol, Monet, Gauguin, Sunyer. El paisaje en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Gerona, CaixaForum; Tarragona, CaixaForum; Lérida, CaixaForum, n. 39, p. 132, lám. p. 133.

2013 - 2014

Courbet, Van Gogh, Monet, Léger. Del paisaje naturalista a las vanguardias en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, n. 29, p. 116, lám. p. 117.

2014

L'ideal en el paisatge. De Meifrèn a Matisse i Gontxarova. Col·lecció Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Espai Carmen Thyssen, p. 116, lám. p. 116.

2014 - 2015

Exposición Museo del Cau Ferrat, Sitges. Consorci del Patrimoni de Sitges.

2018

Mediterráneo. Una Arcadia reinventada. De Signac a Picasso. Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga. Cat. 9, p. 61 & cover.

2018 - 2019

Redescubriendo el Mediterráneo. Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid. Cat. 45, p.142 y p. 65 (photo).

2019 - 2020

Imagining the Mediterranean house. Italy and Spain in the 50s. Museo ICO, Madrid. (not in the catalogue)

  • -Maragall, J.: ”Impresión de la exposición Sunyer. A un amigo”.  Museum. Barcelona, 1911, vol. I, n. 7, p. 259, lám.

  • -Castillo, A. del: ”Joaquín Sunyer en el primer centenario de su nacimiento”. Goya. Madrid, 1974, n. 122, p. 92.

  • -Benet, Rafael: Sunyer. Barcelona, Polígrafa, 1975, n. 103, pp. 58-49, 224, lám.

  • -Panyella, V.: ”El Noucentisme a Sitges. 3. Miquel Utrillo – Joaquim Sunyer”. Miscel·lània Penedesenca. Sitges, 1982, n. 5 , p. 167.

  • -Suàrez, A., y Vidal, M.: ”L’oportuna revisió de l’obra de J. Sunyer”.  Serra d’Or. Barcelona, 1983, n. 251, p. 59.

  • -Vallès i Rovira, I.: ”De l’ideari noucentista a la realitat sunyeriana. Una lectura de Mediterrània, Pastoral i Cala Forn”. V Congrés Espanyol d’Història de l’Art. Barcelona, 1984, p. 197, lám.

  • -Vallès i Rovira, I.: ”Sunyer i la recerca d’un ideal estilístic”. D’art. Barcelona, 1985, n. 11, p. 349-352.

  • -De Canaletto a Kandinsky. Obras maestras de la colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Llorens Serra, Tomàs; (ed.). [Exhib. Cat. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza]. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 1996, n. 92, p. 234. [Sheet by Francesc Fontbona].

  • Los 98′ ibéricos y el mar: Exposición Mundial de Lisboa 1998, Pabellón de España, August 3 -September  30. Bozal, Valeriano (ed.). [Exhib. Cat.]. Exposición Mundial de Lisboa 1998, Pabellón de España, 1998, p. 196, lám. [Sheet by Carmen Bernárdez Sanchís].

  • Joaquim Sunyer. La construcción de una mirada. Mendoza, C. y Doñate, M. [Exhib. Cat.]. Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya – Madrid, Fundación Cultura Mapfre Vida, 1999, n. 45, p. 180, lám.

  • -Calvo Serraller, F.: Las cien mejores obras del siglo XX. Historia visual de la pintura española. Madrid, 2001, n. 10, p. 45, lám.

  • -Llorens, Tomás: “El ideal clásico en el arte moderno”. Madrid 2001-2002. pp. 32-201, cit. p. 96, n. 31, lám. p. 95.

  • -Llorens, Tomàs: Forma: el ideal clásico en el arte moderno. [Exhib. Cat. 2001-2002]. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2001.

  • -Rousseau, P.: ”Méditerranisme, la modernité tranquille”. Connaissance des arts. París, enero 2002, n. 170, p. 32-33.

  • -Jiménez-Blanco, María Dolores: “Sobre Gauguin y el Sintetismo en el arte español”. Madrid 2004-2005, pp. 86-103, cit. p. 102.

  • -Solana, Guillermo: Gauguin y los orígenes del simbolismo. [Exhib. Cat. 2004-2005]. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza – Fundación Caja Madrid, 2004.

  • La tradición moderna en la Colección Carmen Thyssen. Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, 2011, p. 104, lám. p. 105. [Exhib. Cat.]

  • -Rusiñol, Monet, Gauguin, Sunyer. El paisaje en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Gerona, CaixaForum; Tarragona, CaixaForum; Lérida, CaixaForum, 2012, n. 39, p. 132, lám. p. 133. [Exhib. Cat.]

  • -Brihuega, Jaime: “Radiografías de Julio Romero de Torres en su tetraedro. Clasicismo crepuscular. Ensimismamiento castizo. Efluvio morboso. Intuición de lo moderno”. Málaga 2013, pp. 37-63, lám. p. 48.

  • Julio Romero de Torres. Entre el mito y la tradición. Moreno, Lourdes (ed.). Exhib. Cat.]. Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, 2013.

  • -Courbet, Van Gogh, Monet, Léger. Del paisaje naturalista a las vanguardias en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, 2013, n. 29, p. 116, lám. p. 117. [Exhib. Cat.]

  • L’ideal en el paisatge. De Meifrèn a Matisse i Gontxarova. Col·lecció Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Espai Carmen Thyssen, 2014, p. 116, lám. p. 116. [Exhib. Cat.]

  • -Mediterráneo. Una Arcadia reinventada. De Signac a Picasso. Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, [Exhib. Cat.], 2018. Cat. 9, p. 61 & cover.

  • The Worlds of Joaquín Torres-García. Acquavella Galleries, 2018, New York. [Exhib. Cat.   New York], 2018, p. 41 (photo).

  • -Redescubriendo el Mediterráneo. Fundación MAPFRE, Madrid. [Exhib. Cat.], 2018, Cat. 45, p.142 y p. 65 (frag.photo)

Expert report

Joaquim Sunyer’s Mediterranean Sea is one of the founding works of Noucentism in painting. When Sunyer had a solo exhibition in April of 1911 at the Fayans Catala Gallery in Barcelona with a group of sixty works -amongst which the one at hand was a very important work- the new airs introduced by the exhibition arrived at the right time to bring about a transformation in Catalan painting.

 Eugeni d’Ors had already been speaking for some years of a new cultural movement, Noucentism, in his daily «Glosari» in the newspaper «La Veu de Catalunya», a movement which in respect to art did not define a specific style. Ors defended the work of the artists of his own generation and grouped them under the banner of what he called Noucentism, which until then was more of a wish than a real defined and differentiated aethetic form.

Within this context the death of Isidre Nonell in February 1911 left young Catalan painting without its most charismatic leader. At the same time, the personal version of Post-lmpressionism headed by the deceased painter instantly lost a great part of its force and representativeness. In this situation Sunyer’s exhibition was a revelation and the style he presented was exactly the example that the new Noucentist movement had been looking for.

As if he had followed the advice of Torres-Garcia, who for some time had been urging young Catalan artists to abandon the influence of the people from the North and turn their attention towards the Mediterranean, Sunyer -who until then had been living in Paris and painted in a Post-Impressionist style that was close to Bonnard’s- unexpectedly changed the focus of his work and introduced an idealized -solemn, Arcadian and simple to the point of naive- vision of the Mediterranean that was inspired by Cezanne.

This «naive» transformation was not understood all that well at the beginning. Other than from the hostile traditionalists there was resistence from within the new movement. Joaquim Folch i Torres, the single critic of the young Noucentism, devoted a long article to the exhibition, but he was surprized that Sunyer, whom he considered «so knowledgeable in matters of his profession,» would leave out «the means that in such a glorious way could express his feelings» in his attempt to return to the primary, and so as to confirm his opinion he did not doubt to venture that if Giotto «would have had more knowledge of his trade he would have put it all to the service of expressing the feelings he wanted to translate.»

Joan Maragall, the most regarded Catalan poet and intellectual at the time, greeted Sunyer’s contribution as the quintessence of the Catalan character, albeit with a certain amount of uncertainty because until then this great writer represented the Modernist world against which the new generation composed by Sunyer, Ors, Torres-Garcia and 50 many others (Casanovas, Clara, Nogues, etc.) were rising up.

Maragall really established the new Sunyer and centered his argument around the oil titled Pastoral (it is today kept at the Arxiu Maragall in Barcelona), which endowed this work with an added value that provoked its acquisition by Francesc Cambo, the most promissing politician in contemporary Catalonia.

Whatever Maragall said about Pastoral is also applicable to Mediterranean Sea, which due to the title the artist gave it is the most explicit symbol of the «Mediterranismo» that from then onwards 50 successfully vindicated the Noucentist school. The fact that, a little after its presentation in Barcelona and when the work was exhibited in Munich, Sunyer gave it the highest price amongst all the works shown and that he from then onwards always kept it in his private collection are beyond doubt clear indications of the work’s emotional weight for the artist.

Francesc Fontbona