Several of Sorolla’s works depict scenes that involved pleasurable pastimes. They include scenes which involve a leisurely walk or playing on the beach, for example. His painting of the lighthouse walk at Biarritz is a large narrow rectangular artwork. It measures 68.3 x 188.6 cm. There is an inscription in the lower right of the picture that says J Sorolla y Bastida / 1906. Joaquin Sorolla‘s painting of the ‘Lighthouse Walk at Biarritz’ was not the only painting he did of the scene. He also painted in 1906, the smaller work titled ‘Rocks at the Lighthouse, Biarritz’.
The scene of the lighthouse walk at Biarritz shows four ladies in costumes of the period. Three of the women are walking in a group on the right of the picture. The fourth woman on the left is walking ahead of the group. Between them is a female child. They are walking along the cliff edge at Biarritz. It’s possible to see the beach and the sea below the cliff. Close to the beach, there is a rocky island surrounded by the sea.
Rather than paint in his studio, Sorolla chose to paint outdoors. His colours tended to reflect natural light. Because of this, he makes the landscape appear real to the viewer. By doing this, he gives viewers a sense of them watching the ladies and child walk along the cliff edge. With Sorolla’s use of energetic brushstrokes, he paints a view that is a mixture of sharp contrasts of light and dark colours. The result is that Sorolla captures in the picture, the pleasant walk that the group are experiencing.
Although Sorolla painted ‘Lighthouse Walk at Biarritz’ in 1906, it was for himself rather than a commission. Three years later, the painting was part of an exhibition at the Hispanic Society of America in New York. A Peter Chardon Brooks purchased the painting after the show. Following his death, the painting remained with the Brooks family. Today, the painting’s owner is the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The museum received it in 1922 as a gift from Peter Chardon Brooks’ daughter, Mrs Eleanor Saltonstall.