This ageing man was actually a writer of great significance who appears in a number of portraits from other artists as well. He has a museum dedicated to his life in the Spanish Canary Islands and that is where you will find this artwork. Sorolla was a exceptional portrait painter, but most of his famous works in this genre were not in the formal set up that we find in front of us here. He liked working outdoors, particularly in the latter part of his career, and would focus on people going about their normal lives as if he was not there. This piece however follows the more traditional route of a seated figure looking directly at the artist. There are also symbolic additions which many artists have used to give us a little more information about the subject in each piece. We do know that Velazquez was a key inspiration for Sorolla and we see evidence of that in his more traditionally styled artworks than the bright pieces which came a little later.
The artist would have been happy to produce this portrait, and found a real connection within this writer, with both working within the area of art and literature. They may well have known each other previously as Galdos was amongst the most famous Spanish writers of the time. Many of the items from his lifetime were carefully recorded and are presented today at the musuem set up in his name. Few literary scholars have had this bestowed upon them, and it was Sorolla himself who was behind his own museum which resulted from the foundation that he and his wife had set up. Most venues dedicated to a single artist or writer will not get the same level of visitors as the more rounded collections, but they still serve an important purpose in allowing us to delve much deeper into the lives of certain individuals which would simply not be possible where a much wider variety of people are included.
It is important for those new to Sorolla's career that they really delve into the different genres in which he was involved across his career. One can find all manner of variants which we would not have been aware of otherwise. His beach paintings were, naturally, stunning and charming, but many stop there and leave without understanding more about his family portraits, for example, or some of the interesting commissioned items which fall into other categories of art. He was fundamentally a skilled artist who trained to a very high level, ensuring that experts would eventually find interest in his work even before he switched to the brighter and more upbeat palettes which would eventually define his career in the eyes of most of the general public.