- Hermenegildo Anglada-Camarasa
- Baile gitano (the gypsy dance)
signed H.Anglada-Camarasa lower right
oil on board
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Francesc Fontbona & Francesc Miralles, Anglada Camarasa, Barcelona, 1981, p. 207, discussed, p. 277, no. F61, catalogued & illustrated
Painted circa 1940-47, the present work is one of just a handful of gypsy subjects that Anglada painted in exile in Pougues-les-Eaux in the south of France, following the Spanish Civil War. During this time, he retreated into himself, painting primarily decorative flower still lifes. However, in this composition, he revisits - perhaps not with a little nostalgia - one of his favourite subjects of old.
Plaintive yet passionate, earthy yet full of grace, the Spanish gitana has been all but synonymous with Spain since her kinsfolk first landed on Iberia's shores in the fifteenth century from as far afield as India. The Spanish came to revere but also fear gypsies because of their nomadic way of life and the freedoms it seemed to allow. For some three hundred years, they were persecuted, their settlements broken up, their language and rituals denied them. Yet, paradoxically, the hardship they endured nurtured a whole subculture most nobly embodied by dance and the flamenco.
By the nineteenth century, Spain had embraced Gypsy myth and lore. The Romantics were in awe of the gypsies for their otherworldliness and seeming ability to commune with nature, while the following generation of artists and writers, driven by patriotism in the wake of Spain's colonial losses, venerated the gypsy as the quintessential icon of Spanish identity. Nonell, Zuloaga, and Solana were among Anglada's contemporaries who endowed the gitana with a gravitas, at times playful, at times austere, that linked her inextricably with Spain's psyche.