Sunday Masterpiece: Regnault



Henri Regnault
Arbitrary Execution Under the Moorish Kings of Granada
1870
Oil on canvas, 118 x 57 inches

I've been spending a lot of time lately going over 19th century Orientalist paintings. Yes, it is possible to read very unpleasant currents of European cultural superiority and colonialism in these works. However, I prefer to focus on the more innocent fascination with exoticism and adventure. On that level, it's a fantastic period in art history.

I was fortunate to see this painting in person at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, and was absolutely dumbstruck when I did. It's gruesome, disturbing, and very, very beautiful.

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