The grandson of the sculptor Pavlos Prosalentis and the son of Spiridon, Pavlos Prosalentis the Younger was raised in a family of artists. His early training was under the guidance of his father, a portrait painter, but he later travelled to Italy and France to further his education.
European enthusiasm for orientalist subjects was ignited in the early 19th Century with colourful written tales and travelogues such as Thomas Moore’s Lalla Rookh of 1817, Lord Byron’s The Corsair of 1814, and most influential for whetting the European appetite, The Arabian Nights, published in 1840 in an updated and more decorous translation by E.W. Lane.
While European painters such as Delacroix and Vernet took inspiration from political events for their orientalist subjects, the generation of artists that followed them, including Gérôme, Rallis and Prosalentis were more interested in depicting scenes from daily life.
Prosalentis was infused with a passion for the East, and travelled to Egypt where he lived for several years painting the people and their customs. Prosalentis’ masterful rendition of exacting photographic detail, where one can discern each crease in the fabric or distinguish the individual physical characteristics of the faces and contrast the varying gradations of flesh tones. The vivid colours and textures are electrifying and powerful diffused light engenders an overall glow to the painting.