A Dangerous Liaison at the Paris Salon

A timeless story of 'will they, won't they' by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior

By Google Arts & Culture

Descanso do modelo (1882) by José Ferraz de Almeida JúniorMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes

José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior

José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior was a Brazilian painter of the late 19th Century. He was born in the city of Itu in 1850, and at the age of 18 joined the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro, where he studied under Victor Meirelles and Pedro Américo.

In 1876, he was awarded financial support by Emperor Pedro II, and sent to Paris to the École des Beaux-Arts. There, under the guidance of Alexandre Cabanel, he learned to paint historical and religious subjects in the academic style, and participated in four of the Salons.

Descano do Modelo

This painting, Descano do Modelo, or Model's Rest, was painted towards the end of his time in Paris, and originally exhibited at the Salon of 1882 under the name Pendant le Repos. It was a very popular work, and exhibited several more times before Almeida Júnior's death.

The painting depicts a typical bourgeois artist's studio of the era, complete with antiques and fashionable oriental vases, carpets, and clothes. Light falls from the large window above, illuminating the scene and reflecting off the polished piano and brass ware.

The artist and model are taking a break from their hard work to tinkle on the piano and light up a cigarette. But the model's draping dress, her glowing naked back, the artist's longing eyes tell the full story…

Looking around the studio, the signs are everywhere. Musical instruments - the piano, the mandolin, and the flute, clarinet, and tambourine that hang on the wall - hint to frivolous, fleeting pleasures… and songs of love.

… and the raised spear really hammers the point home.

While the holly bush in the far corner suggests that the artist should be wary. Get too close and you'll get hurt.

The artist's clapping hands suggest that the action hasn't finished. The musical performance may be over, but what will happen next?

While he flatters her with applause, it's funny to imagine what she thinks of him.

Will she praise his painting? Is he actually a good artist?

We can't see. We'll never know…

O violeiro [The Guitar Player] (1899) by Almeida JúniorPinacoteca de São Paulo

If you enjoyed looking at José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior's Descanso do Modelo, then why not take a look at some of his other works? Later in life, he switched from painting urbane salons to slices of rural life, as seen in his 1899 work The Guitar Player.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps