Small-format, 19th-century paintings are displayed here to evoke a crowded drawing room of this period. They range from the late Romanticism of Goya’s followers Alenza and Lucas to the exquisite sophistication of subsequent fi gures such as Jiménez Aranda and Pradilla. Some artists opted to depict the mysterious world of the street invented by Goya with its quintessentially Spanish drunks, witches, masks and sermons; others focused on scenes from Spanish history in which the Inquisition and fl agellants appear in their darkest guise, or on romantic, grandiose subjects depicted with a detailed, elaborate style and a descriptive, protocinematographic approach. Comfortable drawing rooms and discreetly elegant ladies defi ne this pre-eminently bourgeois century, as in Madrazo’s Luisa Bassecourt, Palmaroli’s exotic demi-mondaine model and the young women in Muñoz Degrain’s bohemian studio. Women, the indisputable and charismatic heroines of the 19th century, now play a key role: Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Fortunata and Jacinta, la Regenta, Madeleine Férat, the Lady of the Camelias, Thérèse Raquin, or… the young woman behind the bar at the Folies Bergère. The future remained to be conquered, as suggested by Palmaroli’s young girl on the beach, absorbed in the view through her binoculars. The profoundly sophisticated Fortuny went beyond the world of Paris and Rome that infl uenced all 19th-century Spanish artists and responded in full to the exoticism of Morocco and the delicate resonances of Japanese art. If only one work by this painter could be selected it might perhaps be the sun dappled garden of his own house.

 
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