El borracho, Zarauz

Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida

(Valencia, 1863 - Cercedilla, near Madrid, 1923)

El borracho, Zarauz

Oil on canvas
115 x 140 cm
Signed and dated J. Sorolla

- Estate of the artist (series A, n. 20)
- María Sorolla Garcia
- Thence by descent to the present owner

- Chicago, The Art Institute, and Saint Louis, The City Art Museum, Paintings by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, 1911, n. 33 & 32 
- Valencia, Ayuntamianto, Exposición Sorolla, 1944, n. 20 Madrid, 1956, n. 431
- Madrid, 1963, Casón del Buen Retiro, I Centenario del Nacimineto de Sorolla, n. 92
- Valencia, Centre del Carme & Barcelona, Caixa Forum, Los retratos del belle-epoque, 2011, n. 32 

- Bernardino de Pantorba, La vida y la obra de Joaquín Sorolla, Madrid, 1970, n. 717
- Blanca Pons-Sorolla, Joaquín Sorolla, vida y obra, Madrid, 2001, p. 364, n. 224, illustrated
- Blanca Pons-Sorolla, Joaquín Sorolla, London, 2005, p. 230, n. 123, illustrated

Sorolla spent the summer of 1910 in Zarauz with his family, preferring its restful calm to the hubbub of holiday makers at nearby San Sebastian. He needed the tranquility in order to paint new works for the exhibitions that he was building up for in Chicago and Saint Louis in early 1911. The compositions that he completed in Zarauz include some of his most remarkable large format figure painting, with splendid beach scenes featuring his wife Clotilde and their daughters in elegant flowing summer dresses and bonnets, as well as the local characters to be found in the town’s bars and taverns, as in the present example. Other taverna-type subjects that he painted include Roasting Sardines and The Cider Drinker.

The principal figure of El Borracho was a local fisherman called Moscorra, who despite being the worse for drink seems able to maintain with some lucidity a dialogue with the artist. Sorolla was clearly intrigued by him, as he appears in at least one other of his compositions, now in the collection of Museo Sorolla, Madrid. Moscorra’s open, trusting expression contrasts with the phlegmatic gaze of his white shirted companion who stares implacably out at the artist (and viewer) on the left. One can imagine the frenetic speed at which Sorolla worked to capture this moment, the painter’s extraordinary facility with his paint brush clearly displayed in both the spontaneity and the verisimilitude of the moment depicted.