This artwork places a single boy looking out to sea over his shoulder as he heads back into town. He has most likely been bathing for some time and is half tempted to stay and continue, as he sees other children still playing in the water. We find a fairly calm sky scene, with waves drifting in to the shore. A small number of children can be seen fairly deep in the water but they are clearly well used to this environment and so happily continue to play. A figure looks on from the sand, just as a taller child with hat and basket appears directly in front of us. We can learn from his artworks on Spanish beaches that swimming was a key source of fun and exercise for many local children during the late 19th and early 20th century. It was somewhere that all parts of society could enjoy, and once in the water everyone would essentially feel equal. The artist signs the piece in the bottom left corner, although many would be able to identify him immediately because of the content involved here.
We could not locate a precise date for Boy on the Sand, unfortunately, as this artwork has not been researched in any particular detail. We were however able to put its size at 25.4 x 20.3 cm which makes it amongst the smallest painting produced by this artist. It is also a part of a private collection which explains why it is not particularly well known. As a general rule, it is the publically displayed paintings from Sorolla's career that have received the most research over the years. Boy on the Sand was produced using watercolours which gives it a unique look within the artist's career, as the vast proportion of his paintings were in the alternative medium of oils. One can see how the watercolours work on the left hand side of the beach, for example, and so most observers will immediately recognise this as a diversion from Sorolla's normal method.
Sorolla would spend many an afternoon down the beach in his native Valencia and it is perhaps this environment which encouraged him to try out a brighter palette of colour, as previously he had been very much more in tune with the old Spanish masters such as Goya and Velazquez. The latter would guide much of his portraiture but he would then start to discover new genres which unleashed an alternative strand of work within his oeuvre. Most of those knowledgeable on his career today would recall his beach artworks above all others, and that can be said to be his main genre now, despite his achieving considerable success in a variety of other content. You will therefore find countless other examples like this one here featured throughout this website, with children re-arranged in different combinations and also some depictions of the fishermen of this region going about their daily work.