Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923)
Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923)

Pescadores. Barcas varadas, Valencia

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923)
Pescadores. Barcas varadas, Valencia
signed, inscribed and dated 'A.S M. el Rey Don Alfonso XIII/23 Enero 1912 J. Sorolla B. 1910' (lower left)
oil on canvas
19 x 22 1/8 in. (48 x 56 cm.)
His Royal Highness King Alfonso XIII.
Anonymous sale; Durán, Madrid, 25 November 1980 (sold for 3.000.000 ptas).
with Galería Theo, Madrid, by 1981.
Corporate Collection, Spain.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1992.
B. Pantorba, La Vida y la Obra de Joaquín Sorolla, Estudio Biográfico y Crítico, Madrid, 1970, no. 1725, p. 195, as: Vela a secar (playa de Valencia).
Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, 14 February-12 March 1911, no. 144 (this exhibition subsequently travelled to the City Art Museum, St. Louis, where the painting was listed under no. 143).

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Lot Essay

The dedication by Sorolla to this painting's first owner, King Alfonso XIII, is a testament both to his pride in this work as well as his esteem for one of his most illustrious patrons. Indeed, this painting bears all the hallmarks for which the artist's many depictions of fishing boats on the beach of Valencia are most famed.

Closely cropped, and with the picture plane thrust forward towards the viewer, this painting has an extraordinary immediacy which belies the economy of means used in its execution. Sorolla's brushstrokes are broadly applied, the different element of the composition simply demarked by broad bands of colour, yet despite the lack of detail, the sense of light, shade and movement are so strong that the overall impression of the painting is almost photographic. The shadow in the bottom left hand corner hints at the artist's own presence in the painting, reminding us that it was, like the vast majority of Sorolla's paintings, executed sur le motif.

The primary focus of this composition is the boat itself; the weight and volume of the sail are brilliantly conveyed, reflecting Sorolla's extraordinary ability to modulate white tones and to convey the effect of wind across different surfaces. Here the sail seems to hang quite heavily compared to the more billowing canvases rendered by the artist in other compositions of the same subject (fig. 1), hinting at the stillness associated with the middle of the day.

We would like to thank Blanca Pons Sorolla for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.

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