Sorolla, Joaquín

Valencia 1863 - Madrid 1923
Biography & List of works

El Camino del Mar, Valencia

El Camino del Mar, Valencia

SOLD

Medium: Oil on canvas

Size: 65 x 87 cm

Signed: lower-left: J. Sorolla Bastida 1903

Provenance:

Purchased for 3,500 ff at the Paris 1906 George Petit exhibition by Mlle Cléry; Sotheby’s, London, 14 June 1995, lot 66; Private collection.

Literature:

Bernardino de Pantorba, La vida y obra de Joaquín   Sorolla, Madrid, 1970, no. 1511, catalogued as El camino del mar (Valencia); José Luis Díez & Javier Barón, Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), exh. catalogue, Madrid, 2009, p. 32, fig. 10, ill; To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Joaquin Sorolla being assembled by Sra. Blanca Pons Sorolla, assigned painting no. BPS 2195.

Exhibited:

Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Sorolla, 1906, no. 117.

Sorolla’s enthusiasm for painting en plein air on Valencian Beaches or in the nearby countryside, such as the view here of neighbouring Alcira, is well documented. In a letter to his wife, Clotilde, the artist remarked ‘Today I have continued drawing, every time I am more enamored with nature, so much between the sea and the splendid sun I think my happiest days are those.’

In the work here Sorolla depicts a lush and serene landscape along the path or camino, which leads to the beach, as it passes through a grove of Valencian oranges by a house. The vigorous, staccato brush strokes, rich pigments and employment of contrasting white to capture the bright Spanish sunlight are all characteristic of the artist, and Sorolla applied the thick paint here seemingly, in parts, unmixed onto the canvas. Though brightly coloured throughout, the sliver of mountains and blue sky in the work’s background are dominated by the contrast in the foreground between dark emerald leaves dotted with bright oranges and the cool, pale aqua and violet tones of the adjacent white-washed villa.

Painted in early 1903, Sorolla, Clotilde and their children spent Christmas of 1902 in Valencia with Clotilde’s family and remained until early February, when the oranges would have been heavy on their trees. During that time Sorolla visited Alcira, some fifteen miles south of Valencia, where he painted a series of lively canvases that focused on the abundant orange groves, a series that included the present work.

The pure landscape was a departure for Sorolla; heretofore the painter’s landscapes had merely served as backdrops to figurative or narrative scenes, offering perhaps a context in which to consider the actions played out but never a subject in their own right. Visiting the painter Tomás García Sampedro, a friend from Sorolla’s days in Rome, the previous summer, he had set-up an easel at the mouth of the Nalón River, near San Juan de la Arena, where Sorolla began to explore this new aspect of his oeuvre. However it was not until the Naranjos series that the painter produced finished landscapes on a large scale such as the Camino del Mar here.

The painter’s interest in Spain’s interior and countryside subsequently evolved into the series of gardens and city views that Sorolla painted to great effect between the years 1905 and 1910. Subjects of these works included sweeping panoramas of the cities of Toledo and Segovia, and views of the gardens at the Palacio Royal, La Granja de San Ildefonso – all landscapes in homage to Spain’s natural beauty.

Sorolla, one of Spain’s pivotal modern artists was born in 1863 in Valencia, a locale which would captivate the painter throughout a long career. He and his younger sister were orphaned at a young age when their parents died of cholera and the children were raised by their aunt and uncle, who allowed Sorolla to study art from the age of nine. By eighteen Sorolla had left for Madrid, where the masterpieces in the Prado captivated and influenced the young painter. At twenty-two, Sorolla obtained a grant which enabled a four year sojourn to study painting in Rome where he was welcomed by F. Pradilla, the director of the Spanish Academy there. A long stay in Paris in 1885 provided Sorolla’s first exposure to modern painting; of particular influence were exhibitions of Jules Bastien-Lepage and Adolf von Menzel. Sorolla, even at his most Impressionistic, remained an exquisite draughtsman.

In 1888, Sorolla returned to Valencia to marry Clotilde García del Castillo, whom he had first met in 1879, while working in her father’s studio. They moved with their children to Madrid, and for the next decade Sorolla focused paintings which he exhibited in salons and international exhibitions in Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin, and Chicago; he was awarded a gold medal at the National Exhibition in Madrid, then a first prize at the Chicago International Exhibition. He won at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900, a medal of honour, and nomination for the Legion of Honour.

El Camino del Mar, Valencia (the painting here was no. 117) was shown at the Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, in 1906, Sorolla’s first major one-man show outside of Spain. The vast exhibition established the artist’s brilliant reputation in Paris and affirmed his status as Spain’s leading painter of the day. Filled with subject paintings, beach scenes, landscapes and portraits, the exhibition eclipsed all Sorolla’s earlier successes and led to his appointment as an Officer of the Legion of Honour. It included nearly 500 works, a productivity which amazed critics and was a financial triumph for the artist.

Sorolla’s enthusiasm for painting en plein air on Valencian Beaches or in the nearby countryside, such as the view here of neighboring Alcira, is well documented. In a letter to his wife, Clotilde, the artist remarked ‘Today I have continued drawing, every time I am more enamored with nature, so much between the sea and the splendid sun I think my happiest days are those.’ In the work here Sorolla depicts a lush and serene landscape along the path or camino, which leads to the beach, as it passes through a grove of Valencian oranges by a house. The vigorous, staccato brush strokes, rich pigments and employment of contrasting white to capture the bright Spanish sunlight are all characteristic of the artist, and Sorolla applied the thick paint here seemingly, in parts, unmixed onto the canvas. Though brightly colored throughout, the sliver of mountains and blue sky in the work’s background are dominated by the contrast in the foreground between dark emerald leaves dotted with bright oranges and the cool, pale aqua and violet tones of the adjacent white-washed villa.Painted in early 1903, Sorolla, Clotilde and their children spent Christmas of 1902 in Valencia with Clotilde's family and remained until early February, when the oranges would have been heavy on their trees. During that time Sorolla visited Alcira, some fifteen miles south of Valencia, where he painted a series of lively canvases that focused on the abundant orange groves, a series that included the present work.The pure landscape was a departure for Sorolla; heretofore the painter’s landscapes had merely served as backdrops to figurative or narrative scenes, offering perhaps a context in which to consider the actions played out but never a subject in their own right. Visiting the painter Tomás García Sampedro, a friend from Sorolla’s days in Rome, the previous summer, he had set-up an easel at the mouth of the Nalón River, near San Juan de la Arena, where Sorolla began to explore this new aspect of his oeuvre. However it was not until the Naranjos series that the painter produced finished landscapes on a large scale such as the Camino del Mar here. The painter’s interest in Spain's interior and countryside subsequently evolved into the series of gardens and city views that Sorolla painted to great effect between the years 1905 and 1910. Subjects of these works included sweeping panoramas of the cities of Toledo and Segovia, and views of the gardens at the Palacio Royal, La Granja de San Ildefonso – all landscapes in homage to Spain’s natural beauty.Sorolla, one of Spain’s pivotal modern artists was born in 1863 in Valencia, a locale which would captivate the painter throughout a long career. He and his younger sister were orphaned at a young age when their parents died of cholera and the children were raised by their aunt and uncle, who allowed Sorolla to study art from the age of nine. By eighteen Sorolla had left for Madrid, where the masterpieces in the Prado captivated and influenced the young painter. At twenty-two, Sorolla obtained a grant which enabled a four year sojourn to study painting in Rome where he was welcomed by F. Pradilla, the director of the Spanish Academy there. A long stay in Paris in 1885 provided Sorolla’s first exposure to modern painting; of particular influence were exhibitions of Jules Bastien-Lepage and Adolf von Menzel. Sorolla, even at his most Impressionistic, remained an exquisite draughtsman. In 1888, Sorolla returned to Valencia to marry Clotilde García del Castillo, whom he had first met in 1879, while working in her father's studio. They moved with their children to Madrid, and for the next decade Sorolla focused paintings which he exhibited in salons and international exhibitions in Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin, and Chicago; he was awarded a gold medal at the National Exhibition in Madrid, then a first prize at the Chicago International Exhibition. He won at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900, a medal of honour, and nomination for the Legion of Honour. El Camino del Mar, Valencia (the painting here was no. 117) was shown at the Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, in 1906, Sorolla’ s first major one-man show outside of Spain. The vast exhibition established the artist’s brilliant reputation in Paris and affirmed his status as Spain's leading painter of the day. Filled with subject paintings, beach scenes, landscapes and portraits, the exhibition eclipsed all Sorolla’s earlier successes and led to his appointment as an Officer of the Legion of Honour. It included nearly 500 works, a productivity which amazed critics and was a financial triumph for the artist.