Lot 9
  • 9

Joaquín Sorolla

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
112,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Elena en la playa, Biarritz
  • signed and dated J Sorolla B / 1906 lower left
  • oil on board


Elena Sorolla García, Madrid (gift by the artist, her father)


London, Grafton Galleries, Exhibition of Paintings by Señor Sorolla y Bastida at the Grafton Galleries, 1908

Catalogue Note

Following Sorolla's singular triumph of his first solo exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris in June and July 1906, Sorolla spent the rest of the summer at Biarritz. There, galvanised by his success, he was immediately attracted to the life of the leisured classes on the beach, which became the subject of a series of paintings (fig. 1).The present work is altogether more intimate and familiar, being of the artist’s daughter Elena, aged nine, here portrayed in profile wearing a pink dress and a straw hat and looking out to sea.

The climate, the clientele, and crowdedness of Biarritz required a new and different painterly approach to the one Sorolla followed in the Mediterranean. Working all day on the beach, his output in the French resort was distinguished by more small format paintings rather than large canvases, possibly because the sheer number of beachgoers made it more difficult to compose a large painting, or perhaps as a response to the quickly changing Atlantic light.

Sorolla’s mastery at capturing the moment in impressionistic brushstrokes is clearly palpable in his Biarritz works. Describing the artist’s stay in Biarritz, diplomat and politician Mauricio López-Roberts, Marqui of Torrelaguna noted: ‘among the throng of the tents, the parasols, and the reddish sunshades swelling in convex curves over the Grande Plage, Sorolla walks in his hunt for impressions. [...] And the painter's eyes, very wide open and determined eyes with a frank gaze, the eyes of a seafarer or an explorer, which see far and see everything, are filled with emotion as they contemplate the shifting and luminous appearances of the waves, and the strong and energetic shadows blackening on the golden mantle of the beach. Sorolla finds no pleasure in life if he does not paint, if he does not splash, two, three, four studies a day, and at the same time he is planning pictures, works of the future ('Crónica de arte: Sorolla en Biarritz', Blanco y negro, n. 805, 1906, pp. 11-13).