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19th Century Euro Lot 37 Sorrolla
Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923)
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Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923)

Algarrobo (The Carob Tree)

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923)
Algarrobo (The Carob Tree)
signed and dated ‘J Sorolla y Bastida/1899’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
19 3/8 by 38 ¼ in. (49.2 by 97.2 cm.)
The artist.
with Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1906.
(possibly) acquired by an American private collector, directly from the above, 1906.
(possibly) Sale; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 1953.
with Schweitzer Gallery, New York.
Private collection, Madrid, by 1958.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby’s, London, 23 November 2010, lot 72.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
'Cuadro de J. Sorolla,' La Revista Moderna, no. 116, Madrid, 19 May 1899.
Hispania, Literatura y Arte - Crónicas Quincenales, vol. 1-1899, Barcelona, 30 June 1899, p. 84.
B. de Pantorba, La vida y la obra de Joaquín Sorolla, Madrid, 1953, p. 176, no. 1365.
B. Pons-Sorolla, Joaquín Sorolla, vida y obra, Madrid, 2001, pp. 163, 167, 559
J. L. Díez and J. Barón, Joaquín Sorolla 1863-1923, exh. cat., Madrid, 2009, p. 260, fig. 173, illustrated.
B. Pons-Sorolla, Sorolla and America, exh. cat., Madrid, 2013, p. 124, no. 5, illustrated.
B. Pons-Sorolla, Sorolla and America, exh. cat., Madrid, 2014, p. 197, no. 3, illustrated.
Madrid, Palacio de las Artes e Industrias, Exposición General de Bellas Artes, 1899, no. 811.
Paris, Pavillon Espagnole, Exposition Universelle, 1900, no. 95.
Madrid, Palacio de las Artes e Industrias, Expósicion General de Bellas Artes, 1901.
Pittsburg, Carnegie Institute, 9th Annual Exhibition, 13 November 1904-1 January 1905, no. 261, as Javea: a Study.
Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Exposition Sorolla y Bastida, 12 June-10 July 1906, probably no. 422, as Moutons à l’ombre.
Dallas, The Meadows Museum, Sorolla and America, 13 December 2013-19 April 2014, also San Diego, The San Diego Museum of Art, 30 May 2014 – 26 August 2014, p. 124, no. 5, as The Carob Tree.
Madrid, Fundación MAPFRE, Sorolla and America, 26 September 2014-11 January 2015, p. 197, no. 3, as El algarrobo.
Sale room notice
Please note that this lot has been exhibited in a loaner frame. The frame is available for purchase. Please contact the 19th Century European Art department with inquiries.

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Lot Essay

Jávea, a coastal village in Alicante province in eastern Spain, is renowned for its sea and rock formations which produce spectacular chromatic contrasts. Joaquín Sorolla first visited Jávea two years before the execution of Algarrobo (The Carob Tree) and was overcome by the beauty of the location. It is understood that Sorolla's visits to Jávea were largely responsible for the development of the artist’s subsequent command of color and the effects of sunlight on water.
On this first visit to the area in 1896, Sorolla wrote to his wife Clothide, ‘this Javea has everything I desire and more, if you could see what I have in front of my little house you couldn’t find words to praise it. I am left speechless by the emotion that still consumes me' (Quoted in B. Pons-Sorolla, Joaquín Sorolla, London, 2005, p. 102). It is not surprising that the artist would return to the area in 1898, this time with his wife and three children. The importance of the presence of Sorolla’s family on this visit cannot be stressed enough. To the artist, his family was more important than even painting itself and he was unhappy when separated from them. The sense of tranquility and harmony that pervades the works from this trip, as well as the innovative progress made in the artist’s artistic development, is most certainly due to this peace achieved in the presence of Sorolla’s wife and children.
Algarrobo (The Carob Tree) is less a seascape than a landscape with the sea in the background. In the retrospective of Sorolla’s work at the Prado in 2009, Javier Barón refers to the present painting, together with, La caleta, Jávea (fig. 1) of the same year, as examples of the first pure landscapes that the artist painted. (Joaquin Sorolla, Museo Nacional de Prado, Madrid, 2009, exh. cat., p. 260, illustrated). It is clear that the artist felt the significance of both works, for even at the height of his career, he selected them both for inclusion in the important exhibitions of his work at both the Palacio de las Artes e Industrias in Madrid in 1901 and at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris in 1906 (fig. 2).
Algarrobo (The Carob Tree) is a striking example of the artist’s work in many respects. The painting can be viewed as an early manifestation of the artist’s ability to capture the effects of heat, light and stillness of the atmosphere. Executed in a striking horizontal format, the painting displays an almost abstract pattern of light and texture. Sorolla uses this format to enhance the horizontal lines of the composition; the dusty foreground with the sheep and goats huddled at the base of the tree, the shimmering, rich blue of the sea in the middle ground and the thin, luminous suggestion of the distant spit of land with its buildings shimmering pink in the sun in the background. These three distinct horizontal elements are linked together by the giant trunk of the carob tree which connects sea and sky while providing shade to the sheep and goats at its base seeking shelter and sustenance.
The overall effect of the painting is one of sensation. The viewer is drawn into the picture plane by the receding horizontal elements, and once inside its environs, can fell the stillness and heat, hear the waves lapping at the shore just beyond the end of the landscape and see the effects of dappled sunlight and shadow. It is also in this work that we see the full realization of Sorolla’s technique both in the chromatic effects and his virtuoso brushwork. The animals clustered at the base of the tree are executed in broad, strong brushstrokes in astonishing color harmonies of brown, grey, orange, pink and green. The pink, rose and orange of the sandy, dusty earth is in sharp contrast to the brilliant emerald green of the foliage of the brush at the edge of the landscape and the leaves of the carob tree. The paint itself is layered and worked in order to catch the actual light of reality and shimmer of its own accord. This is particularly evident in the spit of land that protrudes into the composition from right to left in the background, hovering between the sapphire blue of the sea and very pale, almost white-blue of the sky. This small landscape hovers tentatively, glowing pink and rose in the rays of the hot Spanish sun, heightening even further the sensation of heat on a languid afternoon.
It was not only landscapes that benefited from the artist’s soujourns in Jávea. Two years later, Sorolla completed a view of another aspect of life in the Alicante, Encajonando pasas, Javea (fig. 3). This compelling painting of women packing raisins in an enclosed room demonstrates the same abstract compositional elements and dramatic brushwork evident in Algarrobo (The Carob Tree). The effects of sunlight and shadow, the dramatic, now in more vertical compositional format, and the physical rendering through paint of the effects of heat and atmosphere and equally apparent here.
Sorolla continued to paint landscapes throughout the remainder of his career and in 1906, he painted Arbol Amarillo, La Granja (fig. 4), which like the present painting is devoid of human figures. Once again we see the same elements as Algarrobo (The Carob Tree) executed in a palette of greens and golds. Eight years on, the artist has broadened his brushstroke but the essential elements arranged to such stunning effect in Algarrobo (The Carob Tree) continue to develop in the work of the mature artist.
Recently the subject of a major exhibition held at the Meadows Museum in Dallas, the San Diego Museum of Art and the Mapfre Foundation in Madrid, in which Algarrobo was included, Sorolla’s relationship with America was fundamental to his international career and commercial success. Although best understood in terms of patronage, it also served to reinforce the artist’s self-belief and to consolidate his position as an artist who was simultaneously accepted by the official establishment, as vouched for by the many Salon and Exposition prizes he won in Europe and America in the 1890s and early 1900s, and by leading collectors and artists of the ‘modern’ school. America allowed Sorolla to develop a European tradition into fertile and receptive territory that could embrace both the old and the new. As he once observed: ‘Your American artists, such as Chase, Sargent, Cecilia Beaux and Gari Melchers – all of whom I am proud to number among my personal friends of long standing – what are they but children of Velazquez, like myself.’

We are grateful to Blanca Pons-Sorolla for confirming the authenticity of this work, which is registered as no. BPS 935 in forthcoming her Joaquín Sorolla catalogue raisonné.

(fig. 1) Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, La caleta, Javéa, 1898. Private Collection.

(fig. 2) Exposición de París, Galería Georges Petit, 1906.

(fig. 3) Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, Encajonando pasas, Javea, 1901. Private Collection.

(fig. 4) Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, Arbol Amarillo, La Granja, 1906. Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton.

(fig. 5) Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, 1906.

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