Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863—1923) was born and began his artistic training in Valencia, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. By the age of 18 he had sufficient regional success to travel to Madrid, where he entered three seascape paintings in the National Exhibition and studied master paintings in the Prado Museum. Following 2 years’ military service, the 22-year-old Sorolla won a four-year grant to study painting at the Spanish Academy in Rome. During that time he also visited Paris, where he discovered the light and color of the Impressionist painters.
Sorolla’s work became focused on large-scale paintings of seascapes and beach scenes, as well as social and historical themes, most featuring the effects of strong Mediterranean sunlight. He won great public and critical acclaim in Europe and the United States. In 1911 the Hispanic Society of America contracted him for a series of 14 murals on Spanish regional life for its Manhattan building. The project ultimately took him 8 years to complete. The next year, 1920, he suffered a paralyzing stroke and died three years later.