View 1 of Lot 33. Antes de la corrida (Before the Bullfight).
View 1 of Lot 33. Antes de la corrida (Before the Bullfight).
33

Joaquín Sorolla

Antes de la corrida (Before the Bullfight)

Estimate:

650,000 - 850,000 GBP

Joaquín Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla

Antes de la corrida (Before the Bullfight)

Antes de la corrida (Before the Bullfight)

Estimate:

650,000 - 850,000 GBP

Lot sold:

801,500

GBP

Joaquín Sorolla

Spanish

1863 - 1923

Antes de la corrida (Before the Bullfight)


oil on canvas, sold unframed

Unframed: 250 by 370cm., 98½ by 145¾in.


The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Blanca Pons Sorolla, who will be including it in the forthcoming Sorolla catalogue raisonné (BPS 829).

Estate of the artist (serie D, no. 34, as Los toreros. Plaza de toros de Valencia, inv. 1929)

Elena Sorolla García (daughter of the above)

Alberto Lorente Sorolla (son of the above; sale: Sala Alcolea, Madrid, 1987)

Sale: Edmund Peel y Asociados, 21 June 1990, lot 4

Private collection

Bernardino de Pantorba, La Vida y obra de Joaquín Sorolla, Madrid, 1953, p. 154, no. 791, catalogued (as Antes de la corrida)
Florencio de Santa-Ana y Álvarez-Ossorio, Museo Sorolla, Catalogo de Pintura, Madrid, 2012, no. 407, cited (with the study owned by the Museo Sorolla)
Burgos, Museo Marceliano Santa María, Figuras y escenas de interior en la pintura española, 1987
Valencia, Caixa Provincial, 1990

Sorolla was born and raised in Valencia, and his acute sensibility to the region and the local inhabitants is observed to electrifying effect in this monumental work. Depicting the minutes before the start of a corrida or bull fight, like footballers entering a stadium through the tunnel, the toreros (matadors, horseback-mounted picadors, and banderilleros), each sporting his iconic traje de luces (‘suit of lights’), discuss tactics as they prepare to take on their bovine opponents in the ring. The sense of anticipation and excitement is palpable. The contrast between the calm shade in the foreground and the scintillating sunshine and cheering crowds in the packed arena, serves to enhance the sense of tension and impending thrill and danger.


Antes de la corrida was painted circa 1900 in the Valencia bullring during a period of intense activity for Sorolla, whose professional fortunes were beginning to develop apace following the French State’s acquisition of La vuelta de la pesca (Return from Fishing) at the Paris Salon of 1895. In 1900 he received another major break when his Sad Inheritance!, depicting polio-stricken children on the beach at Valencia, won him the Grand Prix at the Universal Exposition in Paris. Although by now an artist of international repute whose work had been exhibited in London, Munich, Vienna, Berlin, and Scandinavia, and across the Atlantic in Buenos Aires and Chicago, it was increasingly his depictions of Valencian subjects that inspired his brush. Aware of his predilection for such motifs he commented 'I like going back to Valencia, and I keep on finding new 'subjects for studies' there.' (Carmen García in Sorolla, The Painter, London, 1989, p. 83). Indeed in July 1900 he was bestowed the honour of ‘favourite and praiseworthy son of the city’ by the Council of Valencia.


Bullfighting scenes are rare in Sorolla’s oeuvre; however, the artist returned to the subject on a grand scale Seville: The Bullfight, one of the monumental panels constituting the Vision of Spain (1913-18) commissioned by Archer Huntington for the Hispanic Society of America in New York.


The sketch in gouache for the present work is in the collection of the Museo Sorolla, Madrid (inv. 1.344).