Details & Cataloguing

19th Century European Paintings


José Villegas Cordero
1844 - 1921
signed and dated Villegas 1874 lower right
oil on canvas
111 by 70cm., 43¾ by 27½in.
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Sale: Sotheby's, New York, 17 February 1993, lot 30
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Caroline Juler, Les Orientalistes de l'école italienne, Paris, 1987, p. 277, illustrated
José Villegas Cordero (1844-1921)
, exh. cat., Seville & Cordoba, 2001, p. 322, no. 23, catalogued & illustrated

Catalogue Note

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.

19th Century European Paintings