Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida was born in Valencia in 1863. At the age of 15 he joined the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia. He then travelled to Madrid to study the Old Masters before he was afforded a grant for further study in Rome, during which period he also travelled to Paris.
Sorolla originally committed himself to producing historical scenes and socio-realist works, and excelled at portraits as well as landscapes. By his mid twenties Sorolla had firmly established himself on the national stage and by thirty he had displayed paintings in salons and international exhibitions in Madrid, Paris, Venice, Munich, Berlin, and Chicago. He won great praise and numerous awards, including the Grand Prix and the medal of honour at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900 and the medal of honour at the National Exhibition in Madrid in 1901. By the turn of the century Sorolla was recognised as one of the western world’s greatest living artists, receiving gold medals in several major international exhibitions.
From 1910 to 1920, he painted a series of fourteen large mural panels for the Hispanic Society of America in New York, representing scenes typical of the various provinces in Spain.
Eventually turning away from more socially conscious subject matter, Sorolla began to focus on scenes of the Mediterranean beaches. He is in particular most identified with the work produced in his later years, when he turned to his own family and home on the Mediterranean shores at Valencia for inspiration. His work marries an Impressionistic approach to light and colour with original dynamic compositions, and heavy impasto technique. He repeatedly featured children in his beach scenes, which have a timeless quality to them.
Sorolla exhibited widely and to acclaim in England, Germany and the United States, as well as in Spain. His home and studio in Madrid has been converted to a museum in his honour and his work is held by J Paul Getty Museum, LA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Art Institute of Chicago, the National Portrait Gallery, London, the Prado Museum, Madrid and other museums and private collections around the world.