The Bath, Jávea, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida, 1905

Oil on canvas, The Met

The flow and sparkle of the river spills across the entire canvas. The small naked child in the foreground has her back to us– she’s about to jump in and join her friends whose white and pink gowns are already clinging to their bodies and floating in the water. Even though the little girl’s distinct shape separates her from the dream-like scene, the same melting shades of yellow, green, and blue are reflected in her skin and in the shadows cast on it. The smallest shadow, cast by her left shoulder blade onto her back, gives her a level of naturalism that contrasts with her flowy, dreamy surroundings. Her feet are in transition, inches from the water and already blurrier than the rest of her that is to follow. She wears a red ribbon in her braided brown hair, the sole addition to her soft, glowing body. The only face revealed to us within the scene is faceless. It’s that of the white-gowned older girl, and it only further emphasizes this lake as a dream-scape– elusive and blurry, but sparkling and beautiful. The little girl’s friends led her, and now she’s leading us to the lake.

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