Dublin, Irish International Exhibition, 1907, no. 354 (lent by the artist)
Irish International Exhibition, Dublin, 1907: Fine Art Section, British and Foreign Artists, Dublin, 1907, p. 39
The paintings of José Gallegos y Arnosa are distinguished by their nuanced attention to color and texture, emphasizing the tactility of the subject rather than their emotional sway or narrative. This can be seen in the present work, All Souls’ Day in Rome, where the focus of his brush is on the beautifully patterned textiles of the flower sellers’ and their brilliantly colored chrysanthemums, which overwhelm the composition. Flowering in late October, chrysanthemums became an integral and deeply symbolic part of the ritual and remembrance of family and friends on November 2nd, All Souls' Day.
Originally from Jerez de la Frontera in the Andalusian region of Cadiz, Gallegos pursued his art education in Madrid in 1873, and travelled to North Africa soon after, attracted by the light and interesting subjects, as seen in one of his best known canvases, Arab Wedding (1878, Prado, Madrid). By 1880 he made his home in Rome, where he found great commercial success alongside other Spanish-born artists, including Juan Pablo Salinas, José Benlliure y Gil and Salvador Sánchez Barbudo. The artist's international fame was secured in part through participation in the great World’s Fairs of his era. All Souls’ Day in Rome was submitted to the 1907 Irish International Exhibition where nearly three million visitors walked through its fifty-two acres of automobile, electric and gas lighting displays, enjoyed funfair amusements, and viewed the wide ranging submissions to its fine art pavilions. Since its record in the exhibition’s guidebook, the present work has been untraced for over a century emerging only recently to afford a renewed appreciation of Gallegos’ oeuvre.
The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is in beautiful condition. The canvas is unlined and still on its original stretcher. The paint layer is clean and lightly varnished. There are no signs of any abrasion or paint loss. Although much of the original pigment reads quite strongly under ultraviolet light, there do not appear to be any retouches except for a 1 inch horizontal line in the extreme upper left corner. The work should be hung as is. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.