Saturday, 13 August 2011


“What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough.” – Eugene Delacroix

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, (born February 27, 1863, Valencia, Spain—died August 10, 1923, Cercedilla), was a Spanish painter whose style was a variant of Impressionism and whose best works, painted in the open air, vividly portray the sunny seacoast of Valencia. Sorolla was from a poor family and was orphaned at age two. He displayed an early talent and was admitted to the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia at age 15. After further studies in Rome and Paris, he returned to Valencia.

Initially, he painted historical and social realist works, one of which, “Otra Margarita” (1892), was his earliest success. He received the greatest recognition, however, for his genre paintings and landscapes. Using heavily impastoed pigments, he combined an Impressionist manner with narrative and anecdotal themes. Summer, the sea and the life of fishermen are themes that figure prominently in his oeuvre.

In 1909 he made a successful debut in the USA in a solo exhibition at the Hispanic Society in New York City. The resulting critical acclaim won him a commission to paint President William Howard Taft in 1909. Upon his return to Spain, he purchased a beach house in Valencia, on the Mediterranean shore. For the rest of his career, he drew his inspiration from the dazzling light on the waters by his home, and his beach scenes are marked by sharp contrasts of light and shade, brilliant colours, and vigorous brushstrokes.

The painting above is characteristic of his work and is his 1910 “Girl on the Beach”. The scene is a dazzling summer’s day with transparent light with the beautiful azures and greens of the sea portrayed with bold strokes of colour. The girl is painted tenderly, yet with deft, rapid brushstrokes that give the painting a freshness and immediate appeal. The noon light is rendered beautifully with reflected sunlight on the girl’s sunburnt face, illuminating it as though with a spotlight. Her delicately rendered left hand is captured in an eloquent gesture, while the right one is almost in silhouette and lacking detail. The dress captures all the subtleties of light and its flapping mirrors the hair, which is also blown back. Counterbalancing the figure is a boat in which a fisherman is fussing over his nets. The reds in this background image are balanced by a mauve-brown shadow on the lower right, and the girl’s figure is the fulcrum on which the whole composition hinges. It is a beautiful painting full of summer sunshine, the saltiness of the sea and the brisk breeze of the seaside. The careless barefoot steps of childhood are contrasted with the toil of adulthood and the painting has a beautiful nostalgic air that is quite captivating.


  1. What a beautiful painting!!!! I'll try and find more by this painter because I wasn't aware of him.....

  2. I love this artist's work and he is one I was not familiar with. Definitely worth investigating and discovering more about him and his work. Thanks for the introduction!