Serenade in Cairo

Oil on canvas, signed and dated ‘Ralli, 81’ lower left
Image size: 16 1/2 x 12 3/4 inches (41 x 31.50 cm)
Hand made Orientalist gilt frame


Autumn Exhibition, Liverpool 1881

Maria Katsanaki, Theodore Ralli, Illustrated page 119, A. G. Leventis Gallery, Greece, 2018


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Theodore Jacques Ralli

Ralli was a Greek painter, watercolourist and draughtsman, who spent most of his working life in Paris, France and in Egypt. He painted genre works, portraits, local figures, architectural subjects, interiors with figures and animals. He is best known for his orientalist paintings.

He was sent to Paris under the patronage of King Otto of Greece and studied under Jean-Léon Gérôme, French painter and professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and under Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouy, both known for their orientalist paintings. Ralli then travelled widely in North Africa and the Middle East, settling for a while in Cairo, Egypt. Here he found his inspiration for the romantic mysticism and suggestive sensuality of his many orientalistic paintings. His other genre paintings were often nostalgic recollections of the life and customs of his Greek homeland, which he portrayed with a delicate and moving reverence. His paintings were elaborated with great attention to detail, with great attention to costumes and facial expressions. The varying light sources in his paintings such as rays of light, candles, or the glowing embers in the fireplace are rendered in soft colours.

Ralli’s first exhibition was at the Paris Salon in 1875. From 1879 he regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy in London. He was a member of the Société des Artistes Français, where he received an honourable mention in 1885, and a silver medal in 1889 for his works. Ralli exhibited widely, including at the Salon de Rouen in 1897, 1903, 1906 et 1909, and at the Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.