I.1884 - 1892: the academic perfection
Following his years as a student at the Royal Academy of San Carlos, Sorolla travelled to Italy with a scholarship from the Provincial Council of Valencia. During his stay there, he spent time in Rome and the small town of Assisi, where he perfected his academic training. The study of the nude and the opportunity to familiarize himself with old and modern masters in Italy played a decisive role in his formation as an artist. But the grant also allowed him to visit the other artistic capital of the period, Paris, where he was exposed to the academic realism that would inspire him to paint social themes. Upon his return to Spain, Sorolla settled in Madrid, where he successfully participated in several National Fine Art Exhibitions. In these events he presented his most committed paintings in this new genre. And They Still Say Fish is Expensive! sums up his ambitious efforts at the time to strike a balance between subjects of a contained dramatic nature, and realistic execution with special attention to light, which began to emerge as his chief concern. These public successes also brought him his fi rst commissions for private collectors, paintings that refl ected attractive popular themes in which Sorolla gradually introduced his bold artistic innovations.