This painting is one of the most famous works of Julio Romero de Torres and it is a genuine homage to the most popular symbols of his Andalusian homeland. Is the first painting in which the painter used for the first time the format of retablo, or altarpiece format.
The piece shows five characters, four of them are found on a backstage while the fifth, a self-portrait of Julio Romero de Torres, appears on the right side. He is holding a cigarette with an elegant gesture and, like the other characters, he is staring at the visitor. Perhaps he is highlighting his condition of director of the scene represented in this pagan altarpiece.
Three women and a man behind them appear on a simple theatrical stage and pose in front of an landscape hat is a pictorial interpretation of local everyday life. The rest is barely illuminated, but the shine of the central figure’s white dress is highlighted. According to the author, she represents the deification of the Andalusian woman. At both sides, two women are kneeling down next to her in a gesture of submission. On the left side, a mature woman holds her white shawl with her hands. She is a famous flamenco singer of the time, Carmen Casena, symbolizes the folk culture and is the personification of flamenco song. In the right side, a young woman wrapped in a red shawl represents the famous dancer, “La Cartulina”, who symbolizes the role of the dance in the flamenco folk culture. The man with the guitar situates himself behind her to the right, personifying the musical role of flamenco. He is wearing a classic black Spanish cape and the typical Cordoba hat.
The public was disconcerted by this work, as they couldn’t understand why the gypsies would wear a shawl and kneel down before a girl who was not a deity, no mattered how much the painter wanted to give her that status. The solemn attitude of the figures and this complicated interpretation lend a strange conjunction of reality and symbolism to this work. The later works of the author would have an important essence of mystery.
In the background appears an imaginary composition inspired by the Cordoba countryside, with elements from the city. Two miniature scenes of love and death take place in the close prairie of the landscape. This use of miniatures, also used in the buildings at the back of the paintings, show of a clear influence from the Córdoba painters, at which Romero de Torres gazed in his childhood at the museum of fine arts.