Lot 20
  • 20

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

60,000 - 80,000 USD
56,250 USD
bidding is closed


  • El niño de la barquita
  • signed J. Sorolla (lower left)
  • oil on panel


Private Collection, New York

Catalogue Note

El niño de la barquita showcases qualities that are unmistakably Sorolla's: images of children on the sea shore and the iconic, brilliant depiction of reflected light and moving, glittering water. 

Children had first started to populate Sorolla's work in the late 1890s, their appearance was inspired in part by his young family; his daughters María and Elena were born in 1890 and 1895, his son Joaquín was born in 1892. But the increasing frequency with which they began to appear in his work also paralleled his own professional and material success. Just as formal recognition of Sorolla's talents spread across Europe, in particular at the Paris Salon of 1895 and the Exposition Universelle of 1900, so too did financial success in the series of major exhibitions in France, Germany, England and the United States. Perhaps as a result, during the subsequent decade, the gritty Social Realist themes in his early oil paintings made way for images of people at leisure and children at play.  

Beginning in 1903, the year of the present work according to Blanca Pons-Sorolla, the shore served as a setting for bathing children and elegant women. Sorolla spent this summer in his native Valencia where, in addition to working on Sol de la tarde (1903, The Hispanic Society of America of New York), he painted Niños a la orilla del mar (1903, Philadelphia Museum of Art) where a young girl in a pink dress and sun hat watches two young boys playing in the surf.  El niño de la barquita depicts a similar theme, with a young boy playing with a toy sailboat at the water’s edge.  Sorolla’s acute attention to light effects is apparent: a slightly overcast sky reflects blue-green in the shining water.  The boy bends to pull his boat, and the sunlight shines through the top of his ear and reflects on his bare legs.  The gestural brushwork and sophisticated palette of hues show Sorolla’s mastery of plein air painting.