Théodore-Jacques Ralli was the most important Greek artist of the 19th century to work in the Academic tradition. He studied in Paris under Jean-Léon Gérôme and Lecomte de Nouy, and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. From 1875, he was a regular exhibitor at the Salon, where the present painting was presented in 1889.
Ralli is most famed as an Orientalist artist in the style of Gérôme, qualities which are plainly apparent in this depiction of a Turkish bath. Ralli was born in Constantinople, and travelled several times to the Near East and North Africa; this gave him an innate understanding of his Orientalist subject matter, and resulted in a style that was somewhat less detached than that of his French master. This is particularly evident in Ralli's treatment of the female nude, which, as here, is typically executed in more languid, and less marmoreal style than Gérôme.
Given the importance of the nude in Academic painting it is hardly surprising that the Turkish bath should have been a favoured theme in both Ralli and Gérôme's oeuvre (fig. 1). Here, the woman is shown resting after her bath, while an attendant descends the stairs to dress her. The treatment of the walls, the raking light seen descending from an unseen source in the top corner of the composition, and the contrast in pose between the two figures are typical conventions of the genre, here rendered with great skill and the acute attention to detail which mark out Ralli's best paintings.