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Sotheby's to sell beach scene by Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla, to be offered at auction for the first time
Joaquín Sorolla, Niños en la playa, 1916. Estimate: £1,800,000-2,500,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- Sotheby’s will offer Niños en la playa by Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla, in a sale of 19th Century European Paintings in London on 23 May 2013. Its appearance on the market follows the November 2012 sale of the artist’s Pescadores valencianos, which achieved £3,737,250, at Sotheby’s, London, an auction record for Sorolla. Niños en la playa, estimated at £1,800,000-2,500,000*, has been in the artist’s family since the late 50s. It appears at auction for the first time and will spearhead a group of Spanish paintings in the May sale.

Painted in 1916, the work is a beach scene at Valencia, in which Sorolla expresses to full effect his emotion at returning to his native city, the intimacy of his vision and the consummate brio of his painterly technique.

Adrian Biddell, Head of the 19th Century European Paintings Department, comments, ‘As well as being an exquisite painting, with a wonderfully fresh contemporary feel to it, it also has a fascinating history. It was immediately recognised as a masterpiece by influential Valencian dealer Justo Bou, who sold it very quickly to the distinguished collector and Sorolla admirer María Bauzá de Rodriguéz. Then in the late 1950s, Sorolla’s grandson and leading expert on the artist, Francisco Pons-Sorolla, identifies it as a crucial work in his oeuvre, and acquires it.’

1916 at El Cabañal was an exceptional summer for Sorolla; it was a welcome recess from working on the panels for Visions of Spain, Alfred M. Huntington’s monumental commission destined for the Hispanic Society in New York. Following his efforts in the spring on the huge Valencian panel, which proved to be a nostalgic foray into his past, Sorolla would produce four major paintings or startling creativity, of which Niños en la playa is one.

Describing the present work, Blanca Pons Sorolla, expert and great-granddaughter of the artist, comments: ‘Niños en la playa is seen, understood and recorded in paint as a whole; there are no partial sketches that undermine the scene in its entirety. The colour, the light, the proportion of the figures, the depth, and the breeze of the wind affect in equal measure the entire work. It is extraordinary that Sorolla can capture on canvas something as difficult as the spontaneity of the moment which unfolds before him and imbue it with the emotional charge he feels.’

Aurora Zubillaga, Managing Director of Sotheby’s Spain comments: ‘Given the resounding success of the sale of Sorolla’s Pescadores valencianos last November, it is an honour to offer Niños en la playa, a masterpiece by the Valencian artist. In the November sale we witnessed a breadth and depth of bidding for works by Sorolla, with interest from established buyers and newcomers from Europe and the Americas.’

Niños en la playa has remained in the artist’s family ever since it was purchased six decades ago and has been included in many of most important exhibitions on Sorolla’s work in Bordeaux, Madrid, Valencia, New York, St Louis and Lausanne. In 1963, Niños en la playa was selected to illustrate a special edition of stamps to mark the centenary of the artist’s birth.

The work will be exhibited in Spain in April and in New York and London in May prior to the sale.





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