The portrayal of women

In this room, we are given food for thought on the way femininity was portrayed, by following the thread provided by the works on display.

We shall start with a painting that has an almost black background, against which the white skin of a recumbent woman stands out in contrast. It is the portrait of Countess Sonia de Klamery, a young Polish aristocrat.

It was painted in 1913 by the Catalan artist Anglada Camarasa. You can see not only how the insinuating elegance of her outline, with its energetic, naked arms and shoulders, conveys the idea of a sensual, decisive and intense woman, but also how the skilful use of luminous colour for her skin stands out in clear contrast to the background of the painting, in which darker shades prevail. The red brush strokes of the lips and her firm gaze, balanced by the bright colours of a peacock, combine to convey an even more exotic feel.

Women were gradually being released from the yoke of 19th-century tradition, and were gaining areas of freedom that were soon reflected in art. In this work, you can see the influence of the Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt.

In contrast to this, your eyes are drawn to another painting of a woman, also lying down, reading, and drawn in warm colours.

This is “Reading”, a work recently attributed to Julio Romero de Torres. Although it is an early canvas of his, in Romero de Torres’ work in around 1901, the image of women was restricted to men’s perception of them, and it lies halfway between conventional and sensual.

The woman in this canvas, whose gaze seems sadly resigned, still has a conventional, peaceful and serene aura, like a wife or a mother. In this same languid pose, Romero de Torres painted its antithesis, the erotically sensual nude called “The Gypsy Muse” which hangs in the Prado museum.

(c) (R) 2012, MUSMon com S.L.