Sorolla painting on sale at Alcala Subastas in Madrid.

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Not least, it was also the year that he began a relationship with his childhood friend, Clotilde García del Castillo, who later became his wife and muse.

On June 7, Alcalá Subastas will offer this 2ft 3in x 3ft 1in (68 x 94cm) canvas Mis amigos. Estudio de ocho cabezas masculinas (My Friends. Study of eight masculine heads), which Sorolla created during this important year, and which already demonstrated his technical mastery of strong brushstrokes, light and shade as well as movement, expression and his wonderful ability to bring life to his works.

The men are probably preliminary studies for characters in his larger compositions, rather than portraits of his friends, and the dramatic face on the right of the canvas, looking up to the sky, strongly resembles the central figure in his medal-winning work, Dos de Mayo 1808. The work carries an estimate of €40,000.