The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Blanca Pons Sorolla.
The early years of the twentieth century were widely considered to be the years during which Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida had reached complete maturity, a period of prolific artistic activity and of great acclaim particularly within his native Spain. However, for Sorolla, while this was at once a culmination of years of dedicated painting, it was also the stepping stone to achieving success elsewhere in Europe and particularly in the United States of America.
In 1908 Arthur M. Huntingdon, a North-American millionaire and art aficionado travelled to Paris to buy artworks by Spanish artists for his museum, The Hispanic Society of America. He came across Sorolla's works, and returning with a postcard of one of Sorolla's works in his hand, Huntingdon claimed that 'Today I have determined something that I believe to be of great transcendence for our artistic future in New York with admirable advantages, that nothing in Paris could possibly compare to. I believe that I have met a man-God.' (cited in B. Pons Sorolla, Joaquin Sorolla: Vida y Obra, Madrid, 1999, p. 315).
However it was not until 1909 that Huntingdon actually met this 'man-God' and requested that the artist show a number of works in exhibitions that he was currently promoting to take place in Chicago and Saint Louis in 1911. En la Playa de Valencia was selected and subsequently viewed by over 100,000 people at the exhibition in Chicago and perhaps the entire population of Saint Louis a month later.
'A collection of paintings that should be visited by all of Saint Louis is that of a certain Mr. Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida in the City Art Museum. Technically, these paintings are so extraordinary that they have already seduced the entire art world. This invitation is not exclusive to artists only. But on the very contrary, these works are brimming with interest and sentiment and invoke thoughts in all those who appreciate life and nature, especially the outdoor life. These works, artistically and technically disconcerting as they are, have captivated the public.[...…] To view these paintings, one is amazed by the force, virility and freedom of the artist; for his strong interpretation of light, for his daring and unrelenting use of contrasting colours, and for the overall richness and complexity. It achieves it time and again, independently from which there rises a landscape, a marina, a self-portrait, an animated beach scene or a silent mountain panorama.' (Frances Spencer, Saint Louis Times, 25 March 1911 cited in B. Pons Sorolla, Joaquín Sorolla: Vida y Obra, Madrid, 1999, p. 370).
The Valencian land and seas provided Sorolla with a constant source of inspiration throughout his artistic career. Forever returning to the beaches in Valencia, the artist observed the gritty realism of the daily lives of fellow Valencians and portrayed it with a unique rhythmic intensity. While the subject matter for his works were varied, Sorolla captured the hot, labour-intensive moments with oxen and boats many times. In high demand by collectors during his lifetime, these scenes are still some of the most sought-after works by his hand. En la playa de Valencia remains among the artist's most iconic scenes such as La vuelta de la pesca which is now at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris (purchased by the French State at the Paris Salon of 1895) and Sol de la Tarde (1903) at the Hispanic Society of America, New York.