It is the bright and colourful views of life in Valencia for which he is most famous today, but in truth there was a great variety of work from across his long and distinguished career. Sorolla also worked in other ways in the earlier parts of his career as he sought to learn the various artistic techniques, prior to developing his own unique approach which came about later on. It took him several decades before he could work without any great financial pressure, and it was in his forties that his reputation ensured good sales and consistent work. He was then able to really work on his own ideas, without concern for which pieces would be able to sell. Indeed, many of his paintings were intended for his family, with no intention of ever being sold privately. This has led to the situation today where his paintings are evenly spread between Spanish and American institutions as well as a number of private collections.
Joaquin Sorolla was proud of his Valencian roots and returned to the city many times, even after his career took off and required him to travel around the world to promote and sell his work. He adored the beaches of this Spanish region and found huge amounts of inspiration for his work here, developing the bright palette for which he would become best known. He took on a variety of portraits, including women and children as well as those going about their daily work, such as fishermen arriving by boat after days away at sea. Sorolla has helped us all to get an insight into the lives of workers within Valencia during the late 19th century, as precise imagery always quickly in pricking our own imaginations. He would go onto receive commissions to capture other regions of Spain and he left behind some beautiful scenes of local customs, some of which might be hard to track down today.
This was an artist who learnt his trade, in part, by studying the old masters at the Prado Museum in Madrid. He would never have expected to be featured there himself, and today he enjoys his own room which displays some of his best work together. He would have studied the work of Spanish artists from previous centuries such as Goya and Velazquez and one can spot elements of their influence within his career, even though his signature style would become so very different. He was trained in the classical methods and worked in a similar way in the earlier part of his career before later taking in ideas from living artists across Europe and appending his own personal environment within that. He also had strong friendships with a number of fellow artists and they would each exchange ideas on both content and technique. Eventually, Sorolla was able to put his work into a number of exhibitions and this would bring him success in his native Spain as well as the US.