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A Slave for Sale
Jiménez Aranda, José
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Jiménez Aranda, José

Sevilla, 1837 - Sevilla, 1903

Jiménez Aranda, José See author's file

A Slave for Sale

Ca. 1897. Oil on canvas.
On display elsewhere

A young, completely nude slave sits on a carpet. The sign hanging from her neck bears a Greek inscription (Rose, 18 years old, on sale for 800 coins) that offers her as merchandise at an Oriental market. She chastely hangs her head to hide her shame. The feet of her possible purchasers are visible behind her as they crown around to contemplate her defenseless nudity. This is one of Jiménez Aranda’s most emblematic paintings, as well as one of the most interesting female nudes in 19th-century Spanish painting. It is also a truly unique work in this Sevilian artist’s oeuvre, which includes a surprisingly scant selection of female nudes and very few Oriental settings, despite the fact that such works had become very fashionable some decades earlier on the international market where he worked primarily as a painter of anecdotal military scenes.

Instead, the conception of this nude reveals a fully naturalist view of the female body, with a corporeal definition that may be linked to that period’s wide use of photography as an element for studying and analyzing the human body in the context of artistic disciplines. Here, Jiménez Aranda imbues the young woman’s chaste posture with a suggestive sensuality that stems from an immediate and vibrant interpretation of her nudity in an absolutely naturalist vein. This is especially notable in his treatment and definition of her limbs and, even more so, her abundant tresses, which drape across her shoulders as she tries to hide her shadowed face in a gesture that strengthens the temptingly sensual character of this presentation.

The artist justifies this splendid academic depiction of a nude woman by placing her in an Oriental setting reminiscent of the scenes of slaves and odalisques that had become fashionable in France thanks to the works of great masters of Orientalist painting such as Jean-Léon Gérome (1824-1904). The enormous success of those works on the international market a few decades earlier consolidated a pictorial language that Jiménez Aranda employed until his death, although he reinterpreted it with a new and fully naturalist conception in his treatment of the subject matter.

In that sense, he models the nude here with the absolutely finished technique and refined drawing that are so characteristic of his work. There is a sensual morbidity to his interpretation of the young woman’s pallid white body against the contrasting roughness of the colorful carpet. Also striking is the modernity of the steeply downward angle of vision, which places the viewer considerably higher than the young woman, perfectly suggesting the viewpoint of the ring of men who have lecherously surrounded the humiliated youth. By painting only their feet, without broadening the field of vision, he focuses on the degrading and shameful sensation produced by the gazes of possible buyers around a slave, thus bringing great narrative effect to this compositional resource.

Diez, J.L; Barón, J., El siglo XIX en el Prado, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2007, p.338/ lám.79


Technical data

Inventory number
Jiménez Aranda, José
A Slave for Sale
Ca. 1897
Height: 100 cm; Width: 81 cm
Acquired by the State for the Museo de Arte Moderno, 1905; Museo de Arte Moderno, 1905-1971; Museo Español de Arte Contemporáneo, 1971-1995; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 1995-2016

Bibliography +

Díez, José Luis, Da Goya a Picasso. La Pittura Spagnola Dell'Ottocento, Mazzotta, Milán, 1991, pp. 173.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura española del siglo XIX: del neoclasicismo al modernismo : obras maestras del Museo del Prado y colecciones españolas, Ministerio de Cultura, Dirección General de Cooperación Cultural, Madrid, 1992, pp. 152.

Museo de Málaga, Obras maestras del Museo de Málaga, Secretaría de Estado de Cultura, Secretaría General Técnica, Centro de Publicaciones, Málaga, 1998, pp. nº 18.

Orihuela, Mercedes y Cenalmor, Elena, El ''Prado disperso''. Obras depositadas en Málaga. I. Museo de Málaga, Boletín del Museo del Prado, XXI, 2003, pp. 111.

Jose Jimenez Aranda 1837-1903, Fundacion el Monte, Sevilla, 2005.

Diez, J.L; Barón, J., El siglo XIX en el Prado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 338/ lám.79.

Reyero, Carlos, Desvestidas : el cuerpo y la forma real, Alianza, 2009, pp. /66.

Díez, José Luis (dir.), Pintura del Siglo XIX en el Museo del Prado: catálogo general, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2015, pp. 304.

G. Navarro, Carlos, Invitadas. Fragmentos sobre mujeres, ideología y artes plásticas en España (1833-1931), Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2020, pp. 190 nº 31.

Other inventories +

Registros-Inventarios Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, 1900-1936. Núm. 33-J.

Registros-Inventarios Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno, 1900-1936. Núm. 49-J.

Inscriptions +

JZ (entrelazadas) Aranda / Sevilla
Inscribed in dark color. Front, lower right corner

M.A.M. 33. (JA)
Inscribed in dark color. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in dark color. Front, central area

Exhibitions +

Uninvited Guests. Episodes on Women, Ideology and the Visual Arts in Spain (1833-1931)
06.10.2020 - 14.03.2021

El Siglo XIX en el Prado
31.10.2007 - 20.04.2008

José Jiménez Aranda
10.10.2005 - 30.11.2005

Pintura española del siglo XIX. Del neoclasicismo al modernismo
03.04.1992 - 17.05.1992

Pintura española del Siglo XIX: de Goya a Picasso
18.10.1991 - 08.01.1992

Location +

Málaga - Museo de Málaga (Deposit)

Update date: 28-01-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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