An even greater turning point in Sorolla's career was marked by the painting and exhibition of "Sad Inheritance" (1899),an extremely large and highly finished canvas dealing with a painful subject.
Study for "Sad Inheritance"
In 1887, apolio epidemic had swept Spain. There was no cure, so many, especially children were left crippled. Sorollo portrays young polio victims with their shurnken limbs, bathing in the sea, under the care of a monk. The group of boys next to the monk are the emotional center of the painting. In order to highlight the sheen of sun and water on their flesh, Sorolla skillfully juxtaposes their naked bodies against the monk's black robe. The painting earned Sorolla his greatest official recognition, the Grand Prix and a medal of honor at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, and the medal of honor at the National Exhibition in Madrid in 1901. In this painting he perfected his technique for depicting the effects of light, a technique which he was to refine throughout his lifetime.