Sewing Sorolla’s sail: description and curiosities


Sewing the Sail is an early masterpiece by Sorolla, a Spanish artist who participated in the 1905 Venice Biennale and devoted his entire life to the description of bright, Mediterranean landscapes.

Before being exhibited in Venice, this grandiose painting had already experienced great international fame as it had been exhibited both in Munich and Vienna. The far-sighted purchase of the city of Venice in 1905, however, made it possible for the work to become part of the collection of the International Gallery of Modern Art at Ca’ Pesaro, where it is still located today.

Sewing Sorolla’s sail: description and curiosities

img cucendo la vela Sorolla dettaglio

Sorolla’s Sewing the Sail is a painting with a vibrant and dynamic seafaring scene. It is a work in which the painter skilfully captures the light of the sun and the energy of the sea, but it is also a masterpiece that gives dignity to labour and manual work, highlighting the strong link between man and the sea.


The theme of all Sorolla’s artistic activity is the Mediterranean and seafaring life. However, in this large-scale painting it is not the Mediterranean landscape that is in the foreground but the fishermen’s house.
Only the terrace of a fishermen’s house intent on sewing a sail is described. They are bathed in summer light and the whiteness of the sail reflects the daylight filtering through the plants and a probable roof.

Sorolla has painted the details with great skill, highlighting the movements of the fishermen as they work on the sail. The figures are portrayed with great realism, their expressions are focused and engaged, their faces smiling. You can almost hear the voices of the men and women, exchanging jokes and advising each other on the best way to sew the sail.


The colours used are vivid and bright, characteristic of Sorolla’s style, which aims to capture the feeling of light and life in the open air.
The overall atmosphere of the painting is one of great vitality and a great energy seems to flow from the work. The balanced composition and the skilful use of colours and light create a feeling of depth and space.
The scene conveys a sense of hard work and connection to the sea and the surrounding nature.

This painting, although juvenile, shows us Sorolla’s true talent, a skilled painter and master at capturing the beauty and essence of scenes of everyday life, particularly those related to the sea and fishing. We can say that in this work, the artist anticipates the characteristics for which he became famous and which can be seen in his other works, many of which are united in Madrid at the Museo Sorolla.
With his mastery of painting light and accentuating details, Sorolla has succeeded in creating a work that conveys a sense of vitality and emotion.

img cucendo la vela Sorolla


Sorolla’s Sewing the Sail is part of a series of works that the artist created during his stay in Valencia, Spain, where he spent much time painting maritime scenes and everyday life.
From Valencia to Madrid, there are many places where the artist lived or described in his works that can be visited.
In Valencia, there is the School of Fine Arts where the artist studied and the church where he got married, as well as many museums that preserve his paintings depicting the beaches and landscapes of the city.

The scene of Cucendo la Vela is actually set in Valencia in the El Cabanal district near the beach. In this work, however, the landscape can only be glimpsed at the end of the terrace of the fishermen’s house intent on sewing a large sail.

The painting was exhibited at the 1905 Venice Biennale and the city of Venice bought it for the sum of 11,000 lira. The purpose of the purchase was to enrich the collection of works in the newly established Gallery of Modern Art at Ca’ Pesaro.

Looking for a dose of art during your stay in Venice?
Don’t miss the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a unique art collection located on a palace overlooking the Grand Canal.
Find out more about this extraordinary museum in our guide with tips on what to see in Venice.


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