Fishing would very much be a family occupation during the late 19th century, with skills passed down from father to son for many generations. Sorolla also depicted some of the fisherwomen who worked equally hard and played an important role in helping out from the shore whilst their husbands and sons would go out to sea. This painting in front of us here captures a young boy who is still very much learning the ropes, and so remains on land whilst perhaps his father has gone out on one of the many fishing boats that could be found navigating the Valencian coast. He instead walks along the beach with a wooden basket under his arm, that has a cloth covering whatever was stored inside. His wide brim hat is ideally suited to long days in the sunshine but other than that is just a simple pair of shorts. He stares out to sea, as if contemplating in his own mind as to when he might be able to set sail for the first time, or perhaps even feeling a touch of envy at the other children who are able to enjoy much more freedom.
This painting was completed in 1904 and Sorolla would continue in this style for a good few more years after this. He would explore all manner of different angles and arrangements around the beaches of Valencia in a way that no other artist would have been done before. There are even photographs that remain today of him on the beach, setting up his equipment and patiently working whilst everyone else goes about their business. He would have become a recognisable part of the scenery after a while, such was the amount of time that he spent working along the various beaches of this part of Eastern Spain. Thankfully today enough of the original paintings reside in public collections so that we can all continue to enjoy them, though most are dispersed around the US and Spain at the time of writing.
It is hard to imagine the international art world being as aware of the beautiful environment of Valencia were it not for the contributions of Joaquin Sorolla. Not only has his career been examined in great detail by a large number of people but he also devoted much of it to documenting the lives of local people in this region. In return for his loyalty, the artist himself would also be gifted with a large amount of inspiration for all sorts of content, much of which has become amongst his most popular works of all. Even today one can see the same locations across the eastern Spanish coast, and very little has changed other than some of the fishing techniques and also the clothing worn by its residents and workers. We have featured countless examples of Sorolla's beach paintings within this website, giving you a full survey of the different variations that he produced across his career.