This was an artist who appreciated the old masters, and would study them in depth at the Prado Museum, never realising that one day he would actually have his own work displayed in the very same building. He initially took much of their learnings into his own career, but his darker palette would not attract a more contemporary-minded audience in many cases. Whilst his technical ability was clear, the public would immediately start to show more interest in his career once he began to journey in this new direction. The painting displayed here is a good example of how he would become more expressive with his brushwork and allow the overall atmosphere of the location take over. Most people today would generally think of his beach-based artworks when discussing his career, and they remain much sought after on the rare occasions that any of them come up for auction. Few others have covered the beach environment as rigorously as Sorolla, and none with the same level of charm.
The painting, from 1918, in front of us here was produced on an incredibly small panel of just a few centimetres in width and height. That explains how we can still see the individual brushstrokes from the image provided here. It is listed as being in a private collection and despite its size it would still hold a significant monetary value because of its connection to Joaquin Sorolla, as well as the content found within it which is highly typical of the artist. It may have been that the artist took several of these small panels in his pockets whilst travelling around so that he could quickly put some artworks together but without having the huge overhead of his usual method of working. Many of his most famous paintings would be produced outdoors, or en plein air as this technique later became known within the French Impressionist movement.
Sorolla himself would overcome some challenges within his career to achieve fame within his own lifetime. He is now considered one of the finest Spanish painters of all time, and enjoys the rare honour of having an entire museum dedicated to his career. He would be most successful within the US as well as his own native Spain and after running a series of exhibitions of his work in multiple countries, he would eventually build up a solid pool of wealthy patrons who were able to offer him financial freedom for the first time. Many artworks would then be commissioned after that point, including a variety of portraits as well as more general work which was in line with other items he had already sold. His style links him to the French Impressionists, but the main colleagues that he shared time with tended to be from other art movements. He continues to receive the most attention from the US and Spain, but his reputation continues to grow elsewhere as more people become aware of his charming paintings. Some of the great French Impressionists, or who worked on the fringes of the group included the likes of Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.