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PORPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Joaquín Sorolla
SPANISH
RECOGIENDO LA VELA, PLAYA DE VALENCIA (GATHERING THE SAIL, VALENCIA BEACH)
Estimate
600,000800,000
JUMP TO LOT
14

PORPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Joaquín Sorolla
SPANISH
RECOGIENDO LA VELA, PLAYA DE VALENCIA (GATHERING THE SAIL, VALENCIA BEACH)
Estimate
600,000800,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Paintings

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London

Joaquín Sorolla
1863 - 1923
SPANISH
RECOGIENDO LA VELA, PLAYA DE VALENCIA (GATHERING THE SAIL, VALENCIA BEACH)
signed and dated J. Sorolla B. 1908 lower right
oil on canvas
91 by 110cm., 35¾ by 43¼in.
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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Blanca Pons-Sorolla, who will be including it in the Sorolla catalogue raisonné (BPS 1623).

Provenance

Justo Bou, Buenos Aires (probably acquired in Madrid in 1919)
Salvador Fornielles, Buenos Aires (by 1970)
Fernando Guereta (purchased in Buenos Aires in 1972)
Sala Parés, Barcelona
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1972

Exhibited

New York, The Hispanic Society of America; Boston, Copley Society; Buffalo, Fine Arts Academy: Paintings by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida exhibited by The Hispanic Society of America, 1909, no. 68 (New York), no. 46 (Boston & Buffalo)
Rome, Salone d’Onore, Padiglione della Spagna, Esposizione Internazionale di Belle Arti in Roma, 1911, no. 164
Santiago, Exposición Española de Justo Bou, 1920
Barcelona, Sala Parés, Exposición de pintura moderna de la colección Justo Bou, 1932
Buenos Aires, Institución Cultural Española, Sorolla. Su obra en el Arte Español y sus obras en la Argentina, 1942
Barcelona, Sala Parés, Pintores de fama, 1972
Barcelona, Sala Parés, Homenaje a Sorolla en el cincuentenario de su muerte, 1973, no. 25

Literature

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. I, no. 68, illustrated
Bernardino de Pantorba, Sorolla: Estudio biográfico y crítico, Madrid, 1953, no. 1659, catalogued
Bernardino de Pantorba, La vida y obra de Joaquín Sorolla, Madrid, 1970, p. 192, no. 1659, catalogued
Joaquín Sorolla (1863-1923), (exh. cat.), Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2009, p. 331, fig. 234, illustrated

Catalogue Note

The canvas sail - a vital element for all Valencian fishermen at the end of the nineteenth century - became the single most evocative feature present in so many of Sorolla’s Valencian paintings. For centuries the sail had been the engine of the fishing industry, providing the means to go further and more quickly to seek the day’s catch. Fully appreciative of its singular importance to the wealth of the region, and its place in history, Sorolla embued it with a force and treated it with a reverence that reflected its central role in ensuring the continued well-being of the local community. 

As a visual motif that Sorolla developed during the 1890s, whether billowing out under a stiff Mediterranean breeze, or being sewn, furled or gathered in on dry land, its depiction took on a presence in his work that soon eclipsed any other tool that the fishermen relied on for their livelihood. This included his paintings from early in the decade that focused on mending and sewing fishing nets, making rope, or boatbuilding. The sail’s visual potency came quickly to the fore when he exhibited The Return from Fishing at the Paris Salon of 1894 (lot 10, fig. 2). But it was not just the physical power that it was associated with and the visual drama that it expressed when a boat was under full sail. It was the sail’s positon at the heart of the daily life of the fishing community, portrayed in such works as Sewing the Sail of 1896, that fully express its value to the local Valencians. Indeed, as the sail became an ever more familiar motif in his work, Sorolla imbued it with a significance that reached far beyond its purely practical usage. In such a work as Eating on the Boat of 1898, the humble meal shared by the fishermen as they shelter beneath the sail implicitly references the Last Supper (fig. 1). And its supernatural presence is overtly implied in one of his last great religious paintings I am the Bread of Life (fig. 2), in which the sail is the back-drop against which Christ is profiled. 

The present work, painted the same year as Camino de la pesca (lot 10), shares certain compositional elements with Sorolla’s depiction of Sewing the Sail of four years earlier (fig. 3). But while the fishermen stitch with light hearted ease in the 1904 painting, in Recogiendo la vela there is a visceral physicality about the actions of the central figure, that merges the observed realism of this daily action with a certain sanctity. The sail takes on an almost corporeal presence - a pietà - which matches the fisherman’s action of dragging it and gathering it in with a studied intensity. In so doing Sorolla suggests the passing of time, that modern technology will soon be taking over, and with the dawning of the twentieth century sail will give way to steam, even in this cherished corner of his beloved Valencia.

19th Century European Paintings

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London