The summer scene that Spain's Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) captured in the oil painting "Niños en la Playa" (Children on the Beach) will be auctioned off in May in London for a sum estimated at between $2.6 million and $3.7 million, Sotheby's said.
The work, which Sorolla painted in 1916 and reflects his personal vision of a beach in his native Valencia, will go on sale for the first time since being acquired by the artist's family for its collection in the 1950s.
According to the head of Sotheby's 19th Century Paintings Department, Adrian Biddell, Sorolla masterfully expressed his emotion upon returning to the city where he was born, with an intimist view combined with a pictorial technique at its most accomplished.
"As well as being an exquisite painting, with a wonderfully fresh contemporary feel to it, it also has a fascinating history," Biddell said.
Sorolla spent the summer of 1916 in El Cabañal, Valencia, a time that allowed him to take a break from working on the monumental series of panels entitled "Vision of Spain", for which he had been commissioned by the Hispanic Society in New York.
During that summer, Sorolla painted four works of a "startling creativity", Biddell said, among them "Niños en la playa", which was "immediately recognized as a masterpiece by influential Valencian dealer Justo Bou, who sold it very quickly to the distinguished collector and Sorolla admirer Maria Bauza de Rodriguez".
"Then in the late 1950s, Sorolla's grandson and leading expert on the artist, Francisco Pons-Sorolla, identifies it as a crucial work in his oeuvre, and acquires it," Biddell said.