Lot 43
  • 43

Theodoros Ralli

30,000 - 50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Theodoros Ralli
  • Odalisque
  • signed Ralli upper right
  • oil on canvas
  • 48 by 37cm., 18¾ by 14½in.


Private collection, France (since circa 1960s)

Catalogue Note

Ralli's paintings display a high level of ethnographic exactitude, akin to the work of his teacher Jean-Léon Gérôme. His knowledge of Turkish and Egyptian culture grew from frequent visits to Asia Minor, the Levant, and especially Cairo, where Ralli set up a studio and wintered each year from the late 1880s until 1904.

The girl in the present work wears an ornate Ottoman gold coin headdress with a fringe of star-shaped amulets, and a matching necklace. With her white diaphanous veil and dress, and hair braided into a bun, she is dressed for a special occasion or celebration, possibly her own wedding. The cropped composition and punctilious draughtsmanship of the present work suggest the influence of photography so evident in Gérôme's work also.

Born in Constantinople of Greek descent, Ralli's precocious talent came to the attention of King Otto of Greece, under whose patronage he was able to travel to Paris to enrol at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under the tutelage of Gerome. He made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1875, and in 1900 was appointed to the jury of the Exposition Universelle.