Prendergast Bequest to the James Prendergast Library, Jamestown, New York, 1891; Sold in 2018.
Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1890, no. 518;
Dedication Loan Exhibition, Carnegie Library, Pittsburgh, 1895, no. 169.
Soci.t. Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Exposition de 1890, Catalogue Illustré , Paris, 1890, p. xvii and ill. p. 140.
Descriptive Catalogue of the Art Gallery of the James Prendergast Library Association, Jamestown, 1906, no. 25.
Katherine E. Manthorne, The Mirror Up to Nature, A Catalogue of 19th and 20th Century Paintings in the collection of The James Prendergast Library Association, Jamestown, NY, 1982, p. 24.
Luis Jiménez Aranda (fig. 1) was one of several 19th -century Spanish artists who settled in France and gained recognition there. He was born in Seville and was first trained by his older brother, the genre painter, Jos. Jiménez Aranda (1837-1903) and then at the city's Academy of Fine Arts. His early work of 1864 Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Monarchs (location unknown) obtained an honorable mention. At the age of twenty-one the younger Aranda went to Madrid and then in 1868, with a stipend provided by a supportive Sevillan patron, to Rome. There he resided with other Andalusian painters and was especially influenced by the Spanish painter Mariano Fortuny who inspired him to produce many charming historical and anecdotal genre scenes sometimes on Spanish themes. Then in 1874 Jiménez Aranda visited Paris to meet with the art dealer Adolphe Goupil, with whom he would forge a lucrative connection. Thus again, following in the footsteps of his brother, he in 1876 moved to Paris and the following year became a French citizen. He was soon well-established, exhibiting regularly from that time at the annual Salons. His lavish studio on the rue Boissonade (fig. 2) became a meeting place for the numerous Spanish artists living in the French capital. Aranda was at first known for his detailed evocations of elegant 18th -century or Spanish life in the meticulous manner of Meissonier, Vibert, and Zamacois. This kind of work (figs. 3a-e) was extremely popular in France, as well as America, and two of Aranda's paintings of the 1870s (figs. 4a-b) were, for example, in the collection of Anthony Drexel of Philadelphia. His 1878 Family on a Patio in Seville (fig. 5), one of his last Spanish genre scenes, evoked great praise from the critic Eugène Véron who wrote: "This work introduces the spectator to the picturesque customs of Spain and its hot climate. Jim.nez is one of the most brilliant colorists of this lively and vibrant school that is now in full ascendency." Gradually the painter shifted to more contemporary, fashionable Parisian scenes (figs. 6a-b) recalling works by Tissot and other society painters.
In addition to his oil paintings Jim.nez Aranda was a regular contributor of drawings to the Spanish journal La Ilustration Española y Americana which gave him the opportunity to depict various aspects of French life for a Spanish audience. In 1889 he produced a number of lively observations of the great Paris Exposition Universelle (figs. 7a-b). In fact his own paintings were on view in the Spanish pavilion, and he received a gold medal for his elaborate contemporary genre subject, The Visit of the Chief Doctor to the Hospital Room (fig. 8). This rather bleak subject marked his turn to themes of social realism. It was also one of four paintings by the artist sent for display in the Spanish section of the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. He would continue on occasion to paint such scenes of social realism into the 1890s. His breadth of both subjects and styles was in evidence at the Paris Salon of 1890. Here Aranda exhibited three paintings including the present one, and two of aspects of Parisian life - A Market Scene (fig. 9) and perhaps his best known work titled Une Parisienne en 1889 (fig.10), which shows a fashionable lady visiting the Exposition Universelle, with the newly built Eiffel Tower in the background.
In 1892 Aranda left Paris to settle in the countrified suburb of Pontoise, where Camille Pissarro had also lived. Here he turned primarily to producing idyllic rural scenes in a naturalistic and much looser style. In this late plein air phase, making use of atmospheric light effects, he painted primarily landscapes and scenes of farm girls and peasants (figs. 11a-d). Possibly this move to a more impressionist style was in part due to the influence of Emilio Sánchez Perrier (1855-1907), a Sevillan painter who worked with Aranda in bothhis Paris studio and then in Pontoise, producing many gently atmospheric landscapes with an occasional small figure (fig. 12). But while for Sánchez Perrier the landscape was the chief subject, Aranda, although he produced some pure landscapes (fig. 13), for the most part made large figures his centerpiece. In particular he treated the theme of laundresses or washerwomen, which had been depicted by a range of artists from Millet, Daumier, and Bouguereau to Degas, Manet, Boudin, and Renoir. Even Aranda's older brother José had done a scene of Spanish Washerwomen Disputing in 1871 (fig. 14). The present painting by Luis was shown at the Paris Salon of 1890 with the full title of "Lavoir au bord de la Seine à Champ-Rosé." It depicts a young woman wearing a red cap pushing a wheelbarrow full of laundry. Having crossed the footbridge from the shed in the middle distance where her companions are seated hunched over as they wash clothes in the waters of the Seine,she turns to gaze off into the distance. Like those other 19th -century French rural genre painters, such as Jules Breton, Léon Lhermitte, Julien Dupré, or the American-born Daniel Ridgway Knight, Aranda gives to the young woman engaged in her hard-working occupationan air of monumental dignity. While the present painting is inscribed "Paris," a depiction of two other washerwomen by the banks of a river which was shown at the Salon of 1892 (fig. 15) is inscribed "Pontoise." Aranda's rural subjects painted with a free, lightweight technique became as popular as his earlier detailed genre scenes and found a ready market especially among American collectors. One of a Girl with Baskets of 1900 (fig. 16) was, for example, in the collection of Emily Sibley Watson, founder of the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York. The present example of 1890 was almost immediately purchased by the executors of the trust for the James Prendergast Free Library which had been created to honor James Prendergast (1848-1879) whose grandfather had founded Jamestown, New York in 1811. It was the younger James Prendergast's mother, Mary, who on her death in 1889 left money for the purchase of oil paintings of artistic merit for the Library. Thirtyone works were thus acquired, mainly through the J. J. Gillespie Company Fine Art Galleries of Pittsburgh and have remained there until very recently.