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