The play of light on the water and against the sun-drenched walls of the Alhambra, one of Spain's most influential architectural achievements, was ideally suited to Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida's artistic mission: exploring the changing effects of light under the broadest possible range of conditions. Just as the Alhambra's architects had interwoven light and shade, stone and water, Sorolla captured the myriad patterns created by the architecture, water, and light together. The shadows of the thin columns against the walls create a pattern reflected in the water, whose liquidity is remarkable, given the thick gestural paint that Sorolla applied.
The thirty-five-acre Alhambra, built between 1238 and 1358, was the last Moslem stronghold in Western Europe in the late Middle Ages. The Moorish architectural style reached its ultimate refinement here, an airy fantasy that almost seems to float, despite its solid construction of stone and stucco.