RALLIS Theodoros (1852-1909) “Oriental Baths”

Oriental Baths

A native of Constantinople, Theodoros Rallis studied in Paris under Gerome. He turned to the exotic orientalism, which since the mid-19th century has never lost its hold on painters` imaginations. Rallis sometimes interpreted this subject matter with a religious sentiment and the mysticism of the East. His main concern, however, was the sensuous female nude, which he depicted – as did other orientalist painters – using as a pretext scenes in private places such as the baths or the harem that beguile one`s fantasies about whatever intimate acts might go on there. The Averoff painting depicts a lavishly ornamented bath, with three young women relaxing in the hamam, languidly enjoying the ministrations of a Negress. The atmospheric quality of the space is rendered in a rather limited palette of warm browns. Most probably, the painting is unfinished; the unresolved rendering of the background and details as well as the fact that it is unsigned support this opinion. Nevertheless, the treatment of the nude bodies, which have an alabaster glow, and the portrayal of eroticism that hovers in the intimate and inviolate space of women, makes the work a true manifestation of Rallis` objectives.