Artwork Title: Reclining woman. (Etude de femme Hadija), Marrakech

Reclining woman. (Etude de femme Hadija), Marrakech, 1932

Zinaida Yevgenyevna Serebriakova

Zinaida Serebriakova had the opportunity to visit Morocco several times. Her first visit was in 1928... For the most part, she appears to have stayed in Marrakech, although she did take trips to Fez and other parts. She was endlessly fascinated with Morocco. In one of her letters, she wrote: “I am extremely amazed at all this. At the costumes of various colors and all races of men mingled here – negroes, Arabs, Mongols, Jews (so biblical!). I am so dazed from the novelty of impressions that I cannot decide what and how to draw.“ Admittedly, the commissions weren’t lucrative enough, as most of the money went to pay Zinaida’s models. ‘As soon as you sit to draw the women walk away – Arabs don’t wish to be drawn, so they immediately close up their shops or charge up to 10 or 20 francs for tea an hour!’ she wrote despairingly. As a painter of nudes, Zinaida found it difficult to find models in Morocco, Islam’s prohibition against exposing the body working against her. ‘He (Brouwer) wants nude paintings of the lovely native women, but it’s a fantasy hardly worth dreaming about – even in their veils which cover everything but their eyes nobody will pose for me. There is no question of a nude,’ Serebriakova wrote. Still, in 1932, she was delighted to be able to paint a Berber woman with gold bracelets, reclining with her breasts exposed. The delicacy of Serebriakova’s work is exemplified in this pastel, so accurately does it capture the essential humanity of the subject from the ‘land of the setting sun’ as the Arabs called the country. (
Uploaded on Mar 7, 2017 by Suzan Hamer

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