London – The Spanish artist Joaquin Sorollla y Bastida (1863-1923) was never happier than when painting outdoors. In 1911 when he moved into a new house in the Madrid suburb of Chamberi – now the Sorolla Museum – the artist personally designed its garden, creating an oasis of calm in the bustling city and, importantly, a perfect setting for his work. A devoted family man he also found constant inspiration in his wife and children and when these twin passions of garden and family, came together, the results could be remarkable. Patio de la casa Sorolla, Elena Sorolla en el Jardin, a charming sun-dappled painting of his younger daughter Elena in the garden of the family home to be offered in the 19th century and British Impressionist Art sale on 30 March in London, is a case in point. Bequeathed to Elena in the artist’s will, the work has an estimate of £80,000-120,000 and has never been seen at auction.
Painted in the spring of 1920, Patio de la casa Sorolla, Elena Sorolla en el Jardin is one of a group of late works completed not long before a stroke ended Sorolla’s career. He died three years later in 1923.The work was included in the 1958 Madrid exhibition ‘Sorolla en el Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid’ but has not been seen in public since then.
Johann Leibbrandt, Bonhams representative in Madrid said: “When designing his own garden, Sorolla drew on his many visits to gardens in Spain and abroad. Divided into sections, it was peppered with sculptures, low walls, water features and columns and offered the artist endless compositional opportunities. It appears in more than 60 works, including, of course, this wonderfully affectionate portrait of his daughter Elena.”