Siesta

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Jose Villegas y Cordero

1848-1922

Academic Classical artist

Siesta

111.8 x 69.9 cms | 44 x 27 1/2 ins
Oil on canvas

ARC considers this painting by Jose Villegas Y Cordero to be one of the finest orientalist paintings we've ever seen and it readily rivals some of the most famous works by Jean Leon Gerome, Karl Frederick Lewis, Frederick Arthur Bridgman, Rudolph Ernst or Ludwig Deutch.

"In this tour de force of sumptuous indolence, a warrior rests in a mafraj (lounge) in a corner of the Alhambra Palace, serenaded by a beautiful young mandolin player. He is surrounded by all the accoutrements he could desire, smoking a pipe, a coffee pot by his side, and an incense burner by his feet releasing scent into the languid air. Resting on the headboard behind him is his flintlock pistol, and in his hilt rests his kindjal dagger in its bejewelled case. Above, an explosion of pampas grass flowers create a sheltering canopy over the two figures.

Inspired by Spain's rich Moorish heritage, the present work forms part of a series of works set in the Alhambra Palace in Villegas's native Andalusia (see also fig. 1). Villegas studied at the School of Fine Arts of Seville before being sent by his patron, the Marques de Polavieja, to Madrid to study under Federico de Madrazo, Eduardo Rosales, and Mariano Fortuny. It was Fortuny who introduced Villegas to the Orientalist genre and at whose prompting he travelled to Morocco with Francisco Peralta de Campo. In the present work the Alhambra forms the perfect backdrop for the costumes, carpets, weapons and objects he would have seen and recorded on his travels." - Sotheby's