Santiago ARCOS Y UGALDE (Santiago de Chile 1852 - San Sebastián 1912)

Absalam Sold

Watercolour, over traces of an underdrawing in pencil.
Laid down.
Signed, dated and inscribed S. Arcos / 87 / Tanjer. at the lower right, and titled Absalam. at the lower left.
314 x 192 mm. (12 3/8 x 7 5/8 in.)


This striking watercolour portrait was drawn, as the artist's inscription notes, in Tangier in 1887, and depicts a man by the name of Absalam. Santiago Arcos visited Morocco in 1887, perhaps under the influence of the Catalan painter Josep Tapiró i Baró, who lived and worked in Tangier. The light of Morocco had a profound effect on his paintings and watercolours, resulting in the artist adopting a brighter palette. Arcos painted a number of Orientalist pictures in Morocco, notably A Souk in Tangier, exhibited in 18902. These Moroccan pictures proved very popular when he exhibited them in Paris, and led to prizes at the Salon of 1888 and the Exposition du Cercle Artistique et Littéraire the same year, when one critic noted that 'M. Santiago Arcos goes from strength to strength. His types of Arabs, of Orientals, are captured on the spot. My sincere congratulations to this artist.'

The present sheet is typical of the handful of watercolour studies of Arab types by Arcos that are known, which tend to show the subjects in profile or in three-quarter view, and set against a neutral background.




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