The Drunkard, Zarauz (El Borracho, Zarauz)

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Five drinkers gather in a tavern in Zarauz, the Basque coastal town where Joaquín Sorolla spent the summer of 1910. One stares at the artist through watery eyes while another pushes cider towards him, egging on the inebriate to further excess. A third glances menacingly at the painter. The canvas edges cut off two further figures, as in an awkward amateur snapshot. This large-scale, improvisatory sketch is one of six tavern scenes Sorolla painted that summer. It marks a turning point in his career as, for the first time in ten years, Sorolla depicted peasants in the sometimes harsh reality of their lives. He also returned to the distinctively Spanish blacks, greys and browns of Velázquez’s and Goya’s palettes, sparingly used for a decade.

The National Gallery, London



The Drunkard, Zarauz (El Borracho, Zarauz)




oil on canvas


H 115 x W 140 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

bought with the support of a generous legacy from David Leslie Medd, OBE, 2019

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