Artwork Detail

¡Otra Margarita! (Another Marguerite!)
Spanish, 1863–1923
Oil on canvas
51 1/4 x 78 3/4 "
Gift of Charles Nagel, Sr., 1894
WU 2930
Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida based this composition on an incident he witnessed on a third-class railway carriage between Madrid and Valencia, where two civil guards were accompanying a female prisoner who was being brought to justice. The name Margarita might be read as a reference to a slang term for prostitutes used in Valencia at the time. Even more significantly, the name suggests a connection to Goethe’s tragic play Faust, in which Margaret (also called Gretchen) commits infanticide after being seduced by the protagonist Faust. Sorolla used meticulous detail here to augment the misery of the scene, painting from models in an actual railway car rather than in a studio. The spartan space heightens the prisoner’s isolation, and intense sunlight highlights her face even while she slumps over in shame or defeat. Almost theatrical in its character, this painting was a milestone in Sorolla’s career. It made his reputation in the United States, earning a Medal of Honor at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. [Permanent collection label, 2017]