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And they say that fish is expensive!

Painting, 1894, 151.5×204 cm

Description of the artwork «And they say that fish is expensive!»

"And they say that fish is expensive!" — most famous painting Sorolla on a social theme. In 1895 the artist presented this work, along with thirteen others (mostly portraits) at the National exhibition in Madrid. "And they say that fish is expensive!" repeated the success of the film "Another Margarita" that three years earlier brought Carole gold medal "Spanish Interior". After the exhibition the painting was bought for the Museum of modern art, and in 1971 it was in the collection of the Prado. Two studies for the painting "And they say that fish is expensive!" is stored in the Sorolla Museum, which since 1932, works in the Madrid house of the artist.

Most of the national awards received for Sorolla paintings on historical and social subjects, which in the artistic circles of Madrid, then, was what is called a trend. This work he also created especially for the Moscow exhibition. "I'm finishing my painting for the Salon... It's the scene with the fishermen inside the fishing boat— written by Sorolla in a letter to a friend in early 1894. And although the 31-year-old painter pursued well-defined objectives, "And they say that fish is expensive!" — this is not a formal competitive work and outstanding work of art, in which the visible hand of the great master.

Sorolla grew up in Valencia to a locksmith, his childhood was surrounded by artisans, and it is with great respect for the fishermen's work, which fed many residents of the city. The theme was so close and clear to the artist that he created a work that is now considered one of the most poignant paintings of the Spanish social realism of the turn of XIX and XX centuries.

On the canvas, "And they say that fish is expensive!" we see the scene in the hold of a boat, in the center of which is the young fisherman was wounded in the incident in the sea. He lies helplessly while he assisted two senior fellow: one supports the shoulders, the second, in a traditional Catalan hat barretina, apply the poultice to the wounds. On the naked breast of the young man hangs an amulet that should protect the fishermen from harm.

The hold is littered with fishing facilities. In the foreground are the pot of water in which the sailor can moisten the cloth compress, and on the back, in the top left corner, you can see the fish caught in that sad day.

Figures of fishermen are quite large relative to the size of the canvas, which gives the composition a monumental one. The artist shifts the perspective of the hold, reinforcing the effect of the unusual spatial distribution of the characters and showing the ladder lowered the wounded. He "catches" the light which penetrates into the hold through the hatch and falls on the boy.

The body of a wounded fisherman did not know of the severe tests — the author emphasizes his absolute helplessness. But on the concentrated faces of the sea wolves, we see the seal of courage and composure. All this gives the picture a dramatic solemnity, and is associated with the Pieta — a depiction of a scene of mourning by the mother of God Jesus Christ1, 2). Sorolla created a secular version of the Pieta, imbued with a masculine nobility, which he saw in the Valencian fishermen.

The picture is "And they say that fish is expensive!" in a realistic and naturalistic manner that characterized earlier stages of creativity Sorolla. He set himself the task to display the harsh truth of life and brilliantly implemented. Subsequent paintings depicting fishermen (1, 2, 3) differ in mood, in technique and in color. A vivid example — is written in the same year (1894) "Return from fishing" that said the silver medal of the Paris salon and purchased for the Luxembourg Museum (now in the collection of the musée d'orsay).

The title of the painting is inspired by the famous novel by the Spanish writer Vicente Blasco ibáñez, the "may flower." At the end of the works devoted to the plight of fishermen, killed a young sailor, Pasquala. Mother Picores, sending a curse to the Housewives traded in the market, shouting: "Fish them too expensive? Here's how? Yes, not expensive to be a duro per pound!". Ibáñez, countryman, contemporary and friend of the artist, imprinted on one of the portraits published the "may flower" in 1895 — at the same Sorolla presented a painting "And they say that fish is expensive!" to the audience.

Author: Larissa Kuzara
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene

Style of art: Realism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1894

Size: 151.5×204 cm

Artwork in selections: 10 selections

Exhibitions history