Domenico Morelli (1823 - 1901)

A Seated Arab Man Sold

Pen and brown ink, with touches of brown wash.
Signed and dated Morelli 1883 at the lower right, and illegibly inscribed (in mock Arabic?) at the bottom.
445 x 323 mm. (17 1/2 x 12 3/4 in.)


Orientalist or Islamic subjects account for a small but distinctive part of Morelli’s painted oeuvre. He never seems to have visited the Near East, although he owned a large collection of photographs of sites in the Holy Land and elsewhere. The model depicted by Morelli in the present sheet also appears in a painting of an Arab musician playing a musical instrument on his lap, datable to the mid-1870’s. Formerly in the Stevens-Ricciardi collection in Naples, the painting is today in a private collection.

A number of similar pen drawings by Domenico Morelli of Arab sitters are known. Comparable examples include a study of a Seated Arab in the Frugone collection at the Villa Grimaldi Fassio in Genoa and a drawing of a Laughing Seated Arab in the Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Turin, which also houses a stylistically similar study of Christ, which is a preparatory study for Morelli’s painting of Christ in the Desert of c.1893 in Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna in Rome.

Domenico MORELLI

A Seated Arab Man


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