19th Century European Paintings

19th Century European Paintings

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 15. JOAQUÍN SOROLLA | Puerto de Guetaria, País Vasco (The Basque Port of Guetaria).


JOAQUÍN SOROLLA | Puerto de Guetaria, País Vasco (The Basque Port of Guetaria)

Auction Closed

July 9, 02:03 PM GMT


250,000 - 350,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from an American Private Collection



1863 - 1923

Puerto de Guetaria, País Vasco (The Basque Port of Guetaria)

signed and dated J Sorolla 1910 lower left

 oil on canvas

69 by 80cm., 27 by 31½in.

F. R. Fleming (purchased in Chicago in 1911)

Private collection; thence by descent to the present owner

Barnardino de Pantorba, La vida y la obra de Joaquín Sorolla: Estudio biográfíco y crítico, Madrid, 1970, no. 1760, listed

Sorolla and America, exh. cat., San Diego, 2013, p. 315, no. 205, catalogued & illustrated

Sorolla y Estados Unidos, exh. cat., Madrid, 2014, p. 359, catalogued & illustrated

Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago; Saint Louis, Saint Louis Museum of Art, Joaquín Sorolla, 1911, no. 127 & 126

'Since I've never lived in a port, the spectacle seduces me, the sirens, the noise of loading and unloading continues, and the lights are still reflected on the sea...It's a pity to live in Madrid, it would be so beautiful to be well installed near the port!'

Sorolla in a letter to his wife dated November 1907

1910 was an extremely busy year for Sorolla. After the success of his first American tour in 1909 with exhibitions of nearly 400 works in New York, Buffalo and Boston, Sorolla was preparing to exhibit in Chicago and St Louis in 1911. At the same time, his work was being shown at the International Exhibition of Fine Arts in Santiago, the International Exhibition of Modern Artists organised by the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh, the XXI Witcomb Gallery exhibition in Buenos Aires, as well as an exhibition organised by the city council of Barcelona. Internationally acclaimed, Sorolla was at the apex of his career.

Sorolla took a long trip to Andalusia with his family at the start of 1910 where his primary focus were the gardens of Seville, different areas of Granada and the beach of Málaga. After Andalusia, he also visited Avila and Burgos. During this time, he was conscious of over working and he apologised to his wife ‘for these crazy artistic ways that in reality, mean nothing’ (2 April 1910, Burgos).

At the start of summer, Sorolla moved his family into the hotel La Perla de Zarauz, near San Sebastián. He chose this area because of proximity to the elegant seaside resort of San Sebastián, frequented by a wealthy clientele. Zarauz was a much more quiet town than busy San Sebastián and Biarritz, and this gave Sorolla more artistic freedom whilst still allowing him to make short trips to the nearby Guetaria, Pasajes and San Sebastián.

Painted during this summer, Puerto de Guetaria depicts boats in the port from an elevated perspective giving a quasi-bird´s eye view of the scene. This maximises the appearance of the shadows projected from the boats and the reflections of the light on the water. For Sorolla, depicting the sea and the reflections on its surface was a continuous challenge. In most of Sorolla´s paintings of the port of Valencia, the viewer´s gaze would be drawn to the boats, however, in Puerto de Guetaria, the main focus is on the water’s surface which here seems like liquid silver. Sorolla’s depictions of boats in ports were heavily inspired by Hokusai’s woodcut prints which Sorolla avidly collected.

To be included in Blanca Pons Sorolla's forthcoming Sorolla catalogue raisonné (BPS 1976).