We find a female figure in front of us with some small binoculars. She peers out from below the canopy across to the waves that cover the background. She is joined by two friends and they collectively are enjoying some leisure time whilst viewing the activities of others. The fact that a canopy has been erected perhaps suggests that some sort of event is happening, as well as the attractive attire that these women are wearing. The beach was an area that all classes could enjoy and Sorolla would cover each of them in his various paintings. We find the hardworking fisherwomen in other paintings, for example, and the contrast in fashion, posture and mood is clearly obvious. The Valencian coast was clearly a hive of activity in the early 20th century, and something that inspired a whole host of different artworks across Sorolla's career.
Social occasions from the 19th and 20th century have long inspired countless numbers of European and American artists. The Impressionists were particularly interested in these events because they were a great way of studying behaviour but also allowed the use of highly attractive fashion of the day. The middle classes were a growing part of society at this time and many painters liked to capture their activities of canvas. Some other well known examples of this could include paintings such as La Grenouillére by Claude Monet, Woman with a Pearl Necklace in a Loge by Mary Cassatt, Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Absinthe by Edgar Degas. Indeed many artists, such as Sorolla, would spend time featuring all different parts of society within their career, finding different elements of interest and artistic challenges within each one.
This painting measures 115cm wide by 100cm tall, making it almost square in aspect. It is likely that Sorolla would have produced several study sketches prior to commencing the final artwork in oils, in order to make sure that the figures in front of us were accurately done. He may even have alternated some elements from reality, depending on his personal taste, such as potentially changing their clothing or amending the angles in which they stood. The canopy provides the artist with an opportunity to bring some heavy contrast into the artwork from the shadow that it casts over the figures. At this time, women would be keen to avoid the sunlight in order to best preserve their pale tones, though today things are much the opposite for most. Women feature regularly within this artist's career, and he certainly seemed to prefer them over men, perhaps attracted to the touches of feminity which perhaps better suited his artistic style.