Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923) is a name unfamiliar to most American museum visitors even though he was hailed as a "master of light" by no less an artist than Claude Monet. Revered in Spain as that nation's last great traditional painter, Sorolla was the epitome of a successful artist. A talented student, by 1900 he had become one of Europe's leading artists. Though he lived in Madrid, he returned often to his native Valencia, a town on the southeast coast where he painted beach scenes that allowed him to focus on the study of light. There he was struck by the daily sight of fishermen maneuvering teams of oxen to beach their boats at end of day -- a scene captured in this monumental canvas of 1903. This heroic image of daily labor shows Sorolla recording the fall of light with extraordinary precision while simultaneously employing Impressionism's unmixed colors and freer brushwork. Overall, it is an image that demonstrates the artist's equal allegiance to the Spanish tradition of realism and to the advanced art of his own day. Beaching the Boat (Afternoon Light), is on loan from the Hispanic Society of America for two years, is presented in dialogue with two works by Sorolla from the Norton’s collection, Child on a Beach and Portrait of Enrique Recio y Gil.
This series highlights exceptional works of art on long-term loan from public and private collections. The exhibition is made possible, in part, through the generosity of an anonymous donor. Sorolla's painting will remain on view for two years.