We find the model dressed elegantly here as Sorolla decided to produce a particularly formal portrait which diverges from the majority of his famous portraits. Clotilde wears a hugely decorative hat with white plumage which dominates the top half of the painting. She looks serious in this depiction, but also incredibly grand in the attire worn here. Her dress is simple, but smart, and her coat over the top boasts some touches of comforting fur around the sides. All items are black, other than the detail on her wide brimmed hat. Joaquin is careful to avoid the hat placing too much of a shadow across his wife's face, and so additional lighting allows a glow to appear around her neckline which spreads high enough to allow us to see her facial features clearly. The overall piece is generally dark, therefore, and this connects to more traditional style of portraiture rather than the contemporary approaches used by Sorolla elsewhere in his career. He would study the work of Goya and Velazquez in the Prado Museum which would have influenced the earlier parts of his career, and they used darker tones throughout their own respective oeuvres.
One can see some influence in the tones used here from Velazquez's best known paintings including Portrait of Juan de Pareja, Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress and also The Lunch. Velazquez himself is known to have been highly influential upon a number of 19th century artists, even though this period was most famous for implementing some very bright colour schemes. Sorolla took that direction himself, but only later on after his devotion to the Spanish master had already been very apparent for many years. This is a path taken by many artists who initially work in similar ways to those who came before, but then later on finding more of a personal direction as they understand better the ways in which they truly enjoy working. They might also be attempting to impress earlier on, seeking to create a following to enable their career to develop.
The Sorolla family was close knit and happy, as demonstrated by the large numbers of paintings in which they were featured by Joaquin. Historians have been able to track their progress over the years through the visual changes in each figure across a number of artworks, with the differences being most obvious in the artist's children. They appear literally as babies before then growing up on canvas. Clotilde retains an elegance and beauty which remains throughout, such was her impressive frame and beautiful facial features. If Joaquin had picked a woman to model for him they would not have been anymore suitable for the lady that he married and this encouraged him to paint her many times over, all of which he then gifted to her as a present. That is how they all ended up in the Sorolla Museum in Madrid, Spain.