Children Looking for Shellfish, 1919

After completing the final panel for Vision of Spain, also known as The Provinces of Spain, a 1913-19 series of fourteen monumental paintings depicting the customs, costumes and traditions of the regions of Spain commissioned by Archie Huntington for the Hispanic Society of America, Sorolla returned to Madrid. He then travelled to Valencia at the end of July. From there he went on holiday to Mallorca, which he found "interesting but too dead", so he decided to move to Ibiza.

* Report by Karla Ingleton Darocas. Hons. B. A.  (

He stayed there until 25 September, accompanied by his family, his student Santiago Martinez and the painter Ernst Ziess.

The beauty of the island's coves moved him to paint the sea between the rocks, as he had done in Jávea in 1905, when he painted children looking for shells, and also the changing angles that immerse the eye in the subject.

The effect of the naked bodies between the rocks is also similar to what can be seen in some of his paintings with bathing motifs from this period, but unlike in the painting from Jávea, the rocks play a greater role than the water.

In this painting, the artist depicts two naked children in the middle of a hollow completely surrounded by large rocks that seem to offer them shelter. In the sun, the anatomy of the nearest child appears detailed like an expressive contour drawing, especially in the area of the pelvis, whose muscles show its tension, while the resolution of the body of the distant child is much more summary.

The way the rocks are depicted, with very free brushstrokes in different directions, creates an intense dynamism. The colour variations in a wide range of ochres, reds, oranges, yellows and whites, with hints of mauve, grey and bluish, are the result of the different incidences of light in relation to the orientation of the rocks. The variety of warm tones, contrasting with the intense and compact dark blue of the sea to the left of the upper edge, makes the sheltered area of the rocks a real treasure of colours, where the water shimmers with coloured light.

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