V. The complete artistic freedom
Sorolla’s art reached the peak of its maturity in Afternoon Sun. Here, the painter’s interest in capturing the effects of natural light, in this case in a scene featuring a fishing boat being hauled ashore after a day’s work, bathed in the setting sun of a Valencian summer evening —a theme already explored in Return from Fishing—is carried to its utmost limits. Tackled with complete artistic freedom, this visually powerful canvas allowed him to exploit the potential of the colossal dimensions of the fi gures and the imposing presence of the sail, as well as the swelling movement of the sea, captured here with frenzied energy.
Exhibited in various cities in the United States, the painting now returns to Spain for the fi rst time since it was acquired for The Hispanic Society of America of New York in 1909. When Sorolla discovered the harsh, rugged geography of Jávea and the vividly blue tonality of its transparent waters, he found the perfect setting for some of the scenes that allowed him to tackle compositions more daring than those which appear in his earlier paintings. These pieces already bear the artist’s uniquely personal and immediately recognizable mark.