Joaquín Sorolla, The Pink Robe, Oil on canvas, 208 x 126.5 cm. 1916. Madrid, Museo Sorolla

Sorolla’s quest for creative freedom came to a climax in his mature work, in which he refused to be constrained by expressive limitations of any kind. Thus, while remaining faithful to the realistic definition of his art, during this stage he produced his most daring works, paintings in which the material execution of the piece took precedence over all other aspects. La siesta is the clearest example of his desire to attain artistic independence. The portrait of Louis Comfort Tiffany also belongs to this experimental line. In this work, Sorolla manipulated a background landscape of motley-hued fl owers to recreate the aesthetic of the stained glass windows responsible for making Tiffany internationally famous, attempting in this way to capture the essence of the sitter’s own art and personality.

In the final years of his life, however, Sorolla abandoned the experimental line he had pursued in works such as La siesta and, around 1915, he returned to his own artistic order. That year, during his summer painting expedition, his art adopted a forceful, monumental tone. This tone, already visible in Beached Boats, whose sails—as smooth as polished stone—are so swollen with wind that they are cut off by the edge of the canvas, culminates in the sensual, pagan presence of The Pink Robe, where the sculptural physique of a female fi gure is emphatically humanized by means of a realistic and completely modern treatment of light.

 
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