List Price £150,000
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By Mantegazza, Giacomo (Italian, 1853-1920)
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This antique painting is a masterful work of art, indicating an exceptional attention to detail, virtuosic use of light and chiaroscuro, and a profoundly erotic sensuality. It is the work of Italian painter Giacomo Mantegazza (Italian, 1853-1920), who worked in Lombardy and Milan in the late 19th Century, and who specialised in interior genre scenes as well as Orientalist works.
The present painting, titled Une soirée oisive au sérail (An idle evening in the seraglio) depicts the interior of a seraglio, or harem, the women's apartments in an Ottoman palace. As with most harem paintings of the same period, Mantegazza had in all probability never seen the inside of a harem (it was forbidden for men to enter) and so this painting is a thoroughly imaginative work which somehow appears vivid and sensuous as well as fantastical.
In the scene, a semi-clad woman entertains a seated male figure, probably the owner of the household, with other female figures seated around, and rich jewellery and flowers on the floor.
The painting is set inside a giltwood frame, and is signed 'Mantegazza / Milano 1876' in the upper left corner.
Richard Green, London.
Caroline Juler, Les Orientalistes de l'école Italienne, Paris, 1994, illustrated on pages 96-97.
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