Antonio Maria Fabrés y Costa (Spanish, 1855-1938)
Antonio Maria Fabrés y Costa (Spanish, 1855-1938)

Un Ladrón

Antonio Maria Fabrés y Costa (Spanish, 1855-1938)
Un Ladrón
signed, inscribed and dated 'AFabrés/Roma 11Xbre 83' (lower left)
watercolour, bodycolour and gum Arabic on paper
54 x 28 7/8 in. (137.2 x 73.3 cm.)
Private collection, Barcelona.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
La Ilustración Artística, no. 137, year III, 11 August 1884, p. 259 and 264 (illustrated).
L. Carreras, `Las Bellas Artes en Barcelona. Exposición de Acuarelas de don Antonio Fabrés', in El Correo Catalán, 13 May 1886.
E. A. Anglés, `Antonio Fabrés Costa. Por ladrón', in AA.VV., Pintura Orientalista Española: 1830-1930, exhibition catalogue, madrid, 1988, pp. 112-113, no. 31.
AA.VV., Fabrés y su tiempo, 1854-1938, exhibition catalogue, Mexico City, 1994, p. 28.
Barcelona, Sala Parés, January 1884, no. 195, as: `Un Ladrón'.
Barcelona, Sala Parés, May 1886.

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Clare Keiller
Clare Keiller

Lot Essay

Born in Barcelona into a family of artists, Fabrés originally devoted his efforts to the art of sculpture. After winning a scholarship in 1875 to study in Rome, he was soon impressed by the success of several Spanish artists working in the city and particularly by the painting of Mariano Fortuny. Like Fortuny, the artist subsequently abandoned his chisel for a brush. Fabrés was captured by the exoticism of Fortuny’s orientalist subjects and, with paintings such as the present work, he established a style which was to dominate his oeuvre during his twelve year stay in Rome. In 1892, the artist settled in Paris, where he quickly became part of a circle of Spanish painters who had moved there. He found great commercial success throughout Europe, thanks to the support of the French dealer Goupil, who presented the artist as the successor of Fortuny.
In 1884 the present work was selected for the inaugural exhibition of the Sala Parés. For Fabrés it meant the triumphant return to his native Barcelona. A later version of the present composition, executed in 1887, is held in the Museo del Prado.
The bright colouring and the luxurious fabrics of the thief’s garments display the technique for which Fabrés became so sought after. The artist’s fundamental training as a sculptor is clearly demonstrated in the pose of the figure. The emphasis on the thief’s eye, gazing at the object of his offence, charge the scene with pathos and sensuality. The inscription in Arabic above his head reads: `Death of a thief’. While the figures and the costumes of Fabrés’ oriental compositions are based on his knowledge of the paintings of Fortuny, he also drew on elements from other artists who had travelled in North Africa and his knowledge of the interiors of the Alhambra Palace in Granada.
It is highly probable that Fabrés took as a model for the present composition the small watercolour by Fortuny depicting a Moroccan (fig. 1) executed in 1869 and now in the collections of the Museo del Prado (cfr. Anglés, 1988, pp. 112-113, no. 31).

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