|'The Alluring Young Girl' (1930) by Julio Romero de Torres; Museo Julio Romero de Torres, Córdoba|
Finally I get to post one of my favourite paintings. The English title 'The Alluring Young Girl' of this painting by Julio Romero de Torres, born on November 9, 1874, and died on May 10, 1930, sounds strange to me because I know this painting by its Spanish title 'La Chiquita Piconera'. In Dutch, it's known as 'De Kleine Kolenbrandster' (which means 'The Little Coal Girl') and this is a much more faithful translation of the Spanish title. 'Picón' in Spanish means 'fine coal'. The website of the Museum Julio Romero de Torres actually names the painting 'The Little Coal Girl'. I had found an image of this painting a long time ago in a book on art and architecture in Andalucía. So when I travelled through Andalucía in 2002, I had to see this painting in real life. It didn't disappoint. It is beautiful and captivating and though I like the other paintings by Romero de Torres too, I wandered through the museum and kept coming back to this one numerous times. It's both his most famous painting (it had actually adorned a postage stamp of 5 pesetas) and his last one. In 1930, while travelling abroad, the artist fell ill and returned to Córdoba to recover. Here he painted 'La Chiquita Piconera', a few months before he died at the age of 55. The girl who modelled for this painting was María Teresa López. She became the artist's muse at a young age and modelled for him for many years, culminating in 'La Chiquita Piconera' (she was 16 years at the time of this painting). María and Romero de Torres were never lovers, even though he had tried to seduce her. After a bad marriage of two years, she never got married again and said that men only wanted her because of the fame she had acquired with posing for Romero de Torres. If you are interested in reading about the woman behind the painting and you read Spanish, click here. The image of the young girl in the painting is realistic as well as idealised. With her typical Andalucían features she exemplifies the sexuality of the Andalucían woman. Wearing silk stockings, she's stirring the embers in a copper brazier. She's looking straight at the spectator and her serious gaze might reflect the feelings and fears of the painter whose death was near. Through a window, we see a dark sunset on the river Guadalquivir as if the painter wanted to establish a parallelism with the end of his life. This painting holds all the key elements to the art of Romero de Torres: Córdoba wrapped in fogs, always distant and close; beauty as an ideal, reflected in women; a mixture of burning and coldness; sweetness and disappointment; archaism and modernity; nostalgia and presence.