José Navarro Llorens
Valencia, 1867 - Valencia, 1923
José Navarro Llorens studied at the San Carlos School of Fine Arts in Valencia. Although a follower of Sorolla, he does not appear to have been a pupil of his; at least his name does not feature in the list of students taught by Sorolla in his private studios in Madrid or in the classes at the San Fernando School of Fine Arts. Nor did he follow the conventional academic career paths of the day. For example, there is no record of him ever having applied for any of the travel grants that were awarded by the Diputación (provincial authorities) of Valencia to painters born in the province and had served as a launching pad for many of them such as Francisco Domingo Marqués, Ignacio Pinazo and Joaquín Sorolla.
Between 1883 and 1890 the daily newspapers El Mercantil Valenciano and Las Provincias published many reviews of exhibitions of Navarro’s work held in different stores in the city of Valencia. The works were chiefly seascapes – a genre in which he became specialised – but also included still-lifes and flower paintings. In 1895 he received an honorary mention at the National Exhibition at which Joaquín Sorolla won the first-place medal for And They Still Say Fish is Expensive! He travelled around Morocco, where he made small paintings of human types and landscapes, a fact which has led to suggestions of a possible connection with Fortuny’s oeuvre.
Navarro took up residence in Godella, a small village in the fertile region of Valencia, and developed a close friendship with Ignacio Pinazo, who lived in the same village. From there he made constant trips, recording them in watercolour sketches and small oil paintings on canvas, card and wood. But his favourite subjects were the beach at Valencia and scenes of children and women in the sun.
In 1908 he received the commission to decorate a casino in Buenos Aires, although there is no record of its execution. That year he travelled to Brazil and showed his work in Rio de Janeiro and Bahía. Like that of other followers of Sorolla such as José Mongrell, Francisco Pons Arnau and Julio Vila Prades, his work sold reasonably well abroad, particularly among new art collectors of Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. His paintings enjoyed greater success on these international markets and in England and the United States than on the local market, where he did not benefit from the critics’ constant comparisons with Sorolla.