Antique Orientalist watercolour of a dressing scene by A. Fabbi

By Fabbi, Alberto (Italian, 1858-1906)


Rendering a sweet and feminine subject in delicate pastel shades, this watercolour painting is a sensitive exploration of Orientalist themes.


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This beautiful watercolour painting is by the Italian artist Alberto Fabbi (1858-1906). Like his brother, the renowned Orientalist painter Fabio Fabbi (1861-1946), Alberto Fabbi is known for his Orientalist watercolours such as this painting from the Mayfair Gallery collection, and he participated in fine arts exhibitions throughout Bologna.   

The work depicts a seated woman being dressed for the day by two female servants, one of whom does her hair whilst the other holds a mirror in front of her. A sense of tranquillity pervades, as the seated woman calmly gazes at her reflection through half-closed eyes: Fabbi indicates that the women are in no rush, reflecting the romantic allure of the Orientalist world. The trailing flower garlands, bright blue urn, checkerboard canopy drape, and geometric architecture all situate the viewer in an exotic landscape far from the Western world.

Fabbi’s handling of the watercolour medium here is particularly fine, employing a sketched painterly style that recalls the immediacy of the Impressionist style. He expertly renders the vibrant colours and draping folds of the clothing garments, as well as the delicacy of the jewellery and accessories, creating a sense of naturalism. Traces of pencil can be seen throughout, adding an extra layer of definition to the scene.

Ensconced in an elegantly carved giltwood frame, the paper is signed in the lower right corner ‘A. Fabbi’.

This stunning painting would make a fantastic addition to a collection of Orientalist art, transporting the viewer to a luxurious, exoticised past.

Panel: Height 40cm, width 25cm
Frame: Height 60cm, width 45cm, depth 6cm


Artist / Maker
By Fabbi, Alberto (Italian, 1858-1906)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Figurative Art, Orientalist
Giltwood, Paper, Pencil, Watercolour


60 cm / 23.6 inches
45 cm / 17.7 inches
6 cm / 2.4 inches


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