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María on the Beach at Biarritz or Contre-jour

Joaquín Sorolla1906

Sorolla Museum

Sorolla Museum
Madrid, Spain

Here the artist’s daughter María is portrayed on the path to the lighthouse in Biarritz; the image here is of a sophisticated woman, elegantly dressed in white.Some of these family portraits in the open air were for sale to an eager public and many were sold to collectors at the time. The portraits of Maria were apparently particularly sought after and her family jokingly called her ‘the breadwinner’.Sorolla’s eternal fascination with the modulations of light is seen here in his use of contre-jour, so difficult to analyse because of the dazzle it produces; this is one of the best examples, with the effect of the reflected light reverberating on the water, taking up half the canvas and competing with the figure of Maria, which with the backlit effect appears weightless, almost dematerialized.

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