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 Theodore (Theodorus) Jacques Ralli  (1852 - 1909)



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Lived/Active: Greece/France/Egypt/Turkey/Switzerland      Known for: genre, portrait, figure, interior and architectural painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Theodore Jacques Ralli or Theodorus Rallis (Theodoros Scaramanga Rallis in full) (Constantinople, 16 February 1852 - Lausanne, 2 October 1909) 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. But 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 traveled 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 ambers in the fireplace are rendered in soft colours.
His first exhibition was at the 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 whole work.

He exhibited his paintings in Athens at the Olympic Games of 1896.

He also served as a member of the competition jury in 1900 at the Exposition Universelle*. In 1901 he became a Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur.

After his death he was slowly almost forgotten. It is telling that his name is not even included in the Grove Dictionary of Art.  Most of his paintings are still in private collections.  Only a few museums ever purchased his works. 

    ?    Greek National Pinacotheque, Athens (2 paintingsà
    ?    Louvre, Paris (one painting)
    ?    Sydney (one painting)

Selected Works:
Praying in a Greek church, Mount Parnassus 1876
Boa Charmer in the Harem (1882) (oil on canvas)
Snake Charmer in the Harem (1882) (oil on canvas)
Wake of the Pasha of Tangier (1884) (oil on canvas)
Refectory in a monastery (Mount Athos) (1885) (oil on canvas)
Reclining Odalisk (1885) (oil on canvas)
Sleeping Concubine (1885) (oil on canvas)
La Demoiselle (1887) (oil on canvas)
Evening Prayers (1890) (oil on canvas)
Praying before the Communion, Megara (1890) (oil on canvas) (presented at the Salon of 1890)
In the mosque, 1891
Seamstress (1895) (oil on canvas)
Drama in the Harem (1908) (oil on canvas) (presented at the Salon of 1908)
Before Solomon's Wall in Jerusalem
Woman in Arab Interior
Girls in Orthodox Church
Benediction (oil on canvas)
Peasant Woman resting (watercolour and pencil)
Girl in Church, Candle in Hand (oil on canvas)
Two camels in the Desert (watercolour heightened with gouache)
Ah ! Jealous Woman among Jealous Women (oil on canvas)
The Sultan's Favourite
The Offering
The Bath (oil on canvas)
Young Beauty (oil on canvas)
A Greek Beauty (watercolour on paper)
Portrait of a Greek Girl (Helen of Megara) (oil on panel)
Two Wise Old Men in Turbans (watercolour)
Portrait of a Man in Green (oil on canvas on card)
Sleeping in Church (oil on canvas)
Entrance to Mary's Tomb in Jerusalem (watercolour)
Religious Instruction in an Algerian Mosque (oil on canvas)
Girl Spinning Wool (oil on panel)
Portrait of the Artist


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