Dear friends of the Anglo-Spanish Society,
We thought you might be interested to know about these paintings currently on show at Sotheby’s as part of the European Paintings sale.
- Date: Tuesday 22 November, 7.30pm
- Venue: Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond StreetLondonW1A 2AA
- For more information please visit www.sothebys.com or contact Marta Enrile on 020 7293 5000.
JOAQUÍN SOROLLA 1863 – 1923
NIÑOS EN EL MAR. PLAYA DE VALENCIA (CHILDREN IN THE SEA, VALENCIA BEACH)
signed and dated J. Sorolla y Bastida 1908 lower left, oil on canvas, 81 by 106cm., 32 by 41¾in.
Painted in 1908, Sorolla’s evocation of childhood innocence in Children in the Sea, Valencia Beach, is one of his freshest and most iconic beach scenes. As the young boy standing in the foreground shades his eyes to look out quizically at the viewer, his play mates frolic in the waves behind. Indifferent to any onlookers they jump the whites of the waves, and lounge in the shallows. In the distance on the high horizon line is a fishing boat under full sail.
Sorolla records the children’s innocent activity with extraordinary painterly fluency. He defines their energy bursts with short staccato brush strokes, capturing their activities with a masterful economy of means. To define the sea longer and broader strokes of paint criss-cross the picture surface. Painting under the full force of the Mediterranean sun, Sorolla evokes the glare of the light in the water that glistens on the children’s bodies, the brilliance of their reflections, and the distinctive action of the foreground boy. In the background the full sails of the fishing boat suggest the force of the wind, a reality that is also evident in the occasional particles of sand that became mixed with the paint and which still adhere to the picture surface.
Sorolla’s interest in painting children en plein air developed out of his major painting of 1899 Sad Inheritance, the triumphant culmination of his distinctive Social Realist style that characterised his works in the 1890s. Exhibited at the Exposition Universelle inParis in 1900, the composition was received to great acclaim, awarded the Gold Medal by the jury and established Sorolla’s international reputation. Despite the difficult subject that Sad Inheritance addresses, for Sorolla it heralded his interest in painting children outdoors, a preoccupation that would lead to the liberation of his painterly technique. The preparatory oil sketches that he painted for Sad Inheritance already show his new style emerging. It was in his larger full scale compositions over the following years that the full effect of this new departure would become evident, the tight academic discipline of his early years giving way to a world filled with light.
Sorolla’s fascination with light stemmed in part from his experience working in Valenciain his ‘teens with the photographer Antonio García. Employed in the retouching studio, his time there not only gave him technical knowledge, but also introduced him to to his wife to be, Clotilde, García’s daughter. Ongoing contact with his father-in-law ensured Sorolla’s continued engagement with developments in photography and his acquaintance with many of the top photographers of the day. Sorolla conveys the fundamental importance of light in the photographic process in his portrait of the photographer Christian Franzen of 1903, depicting his sitter flooded with light. Like the foreground boy in the present work, the photographer raises his hand to his forehead to shield his eyes from the glare. As well as adding movement and drama to the composition, uncannily the action suggests the effect of a snapshot. In addition to deploying this pictorial device in Children in the Sea, Valencia Beach, Sorolla incorporated it into a number of other large scale oils of this period, including Fisherwoman with her Child of the same year and The Two Sisters of 1909.
As well as using the light to optimum effect in his work, it was the spontaneity that Sorolla evoked in his compositions, a quality of his speed of execution, that appealed so strongly to the public imagination. The technical rapidity that he developed in completing his work became in certain respects a commercial necessity. Sorolla set the bar high when he exhibited 467 works in his first major international one-man exhibition at Galerie Georges Petit inParisin 1906. To produce this number of works required an immense physical effort, and demanded a high rate of production. The following year he held exhibitions acrossGermany, inBerlin, Düsseldorf andCologne. At each of the three venues he exhibited some 280 canvases. In 1908, just before he painted the present painting, he showed 278 works inLondonat the Grafton Galleries.
Sorolla’s exhibitions in France, Germany and England gave his work extraordinary exposure across Europe, but it was his meeting with the American millionaire Archer M. Huntington in London that proved to be his most influential contact: Huntington invited Sorolla to stage the inaugural exhibition of his newly constructed Hispanic Society of America in New York at the beginning of the following year. Buoyed up by this invitation Sorolla embarked on his summer painting campaign at Valenciawith renewed vigour. The resultant series of works, of which Children in the Sea, Valencia Beach is a prime example, show Sorolla working at the height of his powers, wielding his brush with supreme confidence and completing some of his most successful compositions of figures on the beach.
The present work was one of some 350 pictures that Sorolla exhibited inNew York from 4 February – 8 March 1909. The response to the exhibition was overwhelming. During one month it attracted nearly 170,000 visitors, 20,000 copies of the exhibition catalogue were sold, and on the last day alone nearly 30,000 descended on the Hispanic Society to catch the show before it closed. Sales for Sorolla topped 150 works (including the present painting), and on the strength of the exhibition Sorolla received a series of prestigious portrait commissions, including that of Esperanza Conill de Zanetti.
Writing to his mother Huntington described the success of the exhibition in the following terms: ‘Everywhere the air was full of the miracle. People quoted figures of attendance. There was eternal talk of ‘sunlight’. Nothing like it had ever happened in New York. Ohs and Ahs stained the floors. Automobiles blocked the streets. Orders for portraits poured in. Photographs were sold in unheard of numbers. And through it all the little creator sat surprised, overwhelmed yet simple and without vanity, while I translated to him the rising tide of press enthusiasm. And Clotilde his small Valencian wife, with the pained drawn face of those who dwell with the great, folded her hands meekly and drank of the tide of glory tremulously, nervously smiling, bewildered and happy, as more than a hundred people crowded into the small building to pay tribute to her husband. And then it was all over; the doors were closed and the packing began, for the pictures must soon start upon their pilgrimages to other galleries.’ (quoted in Blanca Pons Sorolla, Joaquín Sorolla,London, 2004, p. 204).
Private Collection, USA(acquired in 1909)
Sale: Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, 21 March 1947, lot 314
Sala Parés, Barcelona (acquired in 1948)
Francisco Samaranch, Barcelona (acquired from the above)
Francisco Samaranch Jr, Barcelona (son of the above)
Juan Antonio Samaranch, Barcelona (brother of the above)
Sala Parés, Barcelona (by 1981)
Private Collection, United States (acquired from the above in 1981)
New York, The Hispanic Society of America; Buffalo, Fine Arts Academy; Boston, Copley Society: Paintings by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida Exhibited by the Hispanic Society of America, 1909, no. 301 (New York); no. 170 (Buffalo & Boston), illustrated in the catalogues
Barcelona, Sala Parés, Exposición de cuadros del gran pintor Joaquín Sorolla, con motivo del XXV aniversario de su muerte, 1948, no. 17
Madrid, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, Casón del Buen Retiro, Joaquín Sorolla. Primer centenario de su nacimiento (1863-1963), 1963
Barcelona, Sala Parés, Exposición de Homenaje al pintor Joaquín Sorolla, con motivo del cincuentenario de su muerte, 1973, no. 23, illustrated in the catalogue
Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González; New York, IBM Gallery; St Louis, Art Museum; San Diego, Museum of Art: Sorolla, 1988-89, no. 46, illustrated in the catalogue
New Mexico, Albuquerque Museum & Dallas, Meadows Museum: Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso, 2005-6, no. 42, illustrated in the catalogue
Meadows Museum, Dallas (on loan 2004-2011)
Aureliano de Beruete, C. Mauclair, H. Rochefort, L. Williams, E.L. Cary, J.G. Huneker, C. Brinton and W.E.B. Sterkweather, Eight Essays on Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, New York, 1909, vol. II, no. 301, illustrated
Goya, August 1963, no. 35, p. 36
Bernardino de Pantorba, La vida y obra de Joaquín Sorolla, Madrid, 1970, p. 193, no. 1674, catalogued, p. 85, illustrated
Edmund Peel, The Painter Joaquín Sorolla, London, 1989, p. 157, no. 46, illustrated
Blanca Pons-Sorolla, Joaquín Sorolla. Vida y obra, Madrid, 2001, p. 298, no. 180 & 304
Blanca Pons-Sorolla, Joaquín Sorolla,London, 2005, p. 187, no. 91, catalogued & illustrated
RAIMUNDO DE MADRAZO 1841 – 1920
ALINE, ALBUM DE FAMILIA (ALINE, REFLECTIONS)
signed R Madrazo upper right, oil on canvas 81 by 65 cm., 32 by 25½in.
Representing the third generation of Spain’s most enduring dynasty of artists begun by his grandfather José and his father Federico, Raimundo de Madrazo was the most distinguished figure of the ‘Spanish School’ in Paris. Settling there in 1862, Madrazo specialised in female portraiture, with the sitter often placed in a refined and exquisite setting. In the present work, Aline Mason, his favourite model and daughter of the concierge at the Marquis of Casa Riera palace inParis, is captured perusing an album of photographs, their black and white profile contrasting with the rich colours of Aline’s dress. The influence of his close friend and brother-in-law, Mariano Fortuny, is clearly evident in this work in the wealth of detail and mastery of colour and texture, from Aline’s porcelain skin to the rendering of white and the vibrancy of the background. ‘Madrazo’s portraiture is of that accomplished order that raises it to eminence; grace and fine drawing, colour and strength, are seen united to enable depiction of character, and his works present an air of completion in which refinement and vivacity are noticeable attributes’ (Alfred George Temple, Modern Spanish Paintings, London, 1906, p. 60).
La Granja Gallery, MexicoCity
Jorge Espinosa Ulloa (acquired from the above)
Angel Cristóbal Gallery, Mexico
Private Collection,USA (acquired from the above in 1976)
New Mexico, Albuquerque Museum; Dallas, Meadows Museum: Prelude to Spanish Modernism: Fortuny to Picasso, 2005-6, no. 13, illustrated in the catalogue
Dallas,MeadowsMuseum (on loan 2004-2011)
Why not join our membership today? You can find an application form on our Membership page