The Return from Fishing (El Regreso de la Pesca Remolcando el Barco) Joaquin Sorolla Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The sea was a key theme in the career of Joaquin Sorolla and this particular painting, titled (El Regreso de la Pesca Remolcando el Barco) in its original Spanish title, came about in 1894.

Joaquin Sorolla spent many years living on the Spanish coast in the city of Valencia and this region would inspire a whole series of coastal-based artworks that captured the lives of local people. He would focus on different sections of society, including those working day-in, day-out, such as the fishermen and women who no doubt were carrying out occupations which had been passed on down the generations through their family lineage. There were also charming portraits of children too, normally just running around or playing without a care in the world, which is the sort of content that most people would warm to.

This memorable artwork features a style of art known as social realism, as the artist depicts the lives of real working people going about their daily duties. Sorolla was interested in ordinary folk, which flew in the face of artists from previous centuries who had normally preferred to concentrate on the rich and famous, sometimes even considering the working poor to be vulgar in appearance. There was also the case in some circumstances where it was only the rich who could help to finance the careers of even the great masters, leaving them with little room for manoeuvre, artistically. The likes of Goya and Velazquez, both of whom had inspired Sorolla as a young man, would work as court painters, where their activities were very much regimented and they would have to sacrifice stylistic indepedence for financial freedom.

We find a number of fishermen dragging their boat back to shore, with the necessary aid of some strong cattle. It is a charming example of man and animal working in harmony and was particularly common in this period, before the rise in prominence of modern technology which dominated the late 19th and early 20th century. Animals have often been used across the beaches of a number of countries because of their lower body strength and potential adaptability for these conditions. Sorolla loved this environment and even this hard work carried out by these committed fishermen had an element of romance to it once the artist had inserted his own bright palette and precise detail.

El Regreso de la Pesca Remolcando el Barco Joaquin Sorolla