01 Orientalist Painting, Edwin Lord Weeks’ Three Moorish princesses, with footnotes, #119

Edwin Lord Weeks (American, 1849-1903)
Interior of La Torre des Infantas, illustrating the legend of the three Moorish princesses, c. 1881-82

Oil on canvas laid down on board
32 x 39½ in. (81.3 x 100.3 c
Private collection

One of the best known legends of the Alhambra was that of the three captive princesses, in which a tyrannical Moorish king fathered beautiful triplet daughters, Zayda, Zorayda, and Zorahayda, by his young Spanish wife, whose Christianity he had forced her to renounce. To protect them from suitors when they became of “a marriagable age,” as Irving describes it, the king imprisoned the three princesses in a tower in a palatial room, connected to the world beyond only by a window with a view across a ravine toward the gardens of the Generalife on a nearby hill. Entranced by three captive Christian Spanish cavaliers, whom they could see from their window, the princesses eventually conspired with their duenna to elope with the virile and handsome young men, as they themselves fled their Muslim captors. At the last moment, one princess decided to remain behind, as her two sisters lowered themselves out of the great window on a rope ladder and galloped off with their suitors to a new life in Christian Spain. Tragically, the third princess, too timid to join her sisters in escape, pined away in the tower and died at an early age. More on this painting

Edwin Lord Weeks (1849 – 1903) was an American artist. Weeks was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1849. His parents were affluent spice and tea merchants from Newton, a suburb of Boston, and as such they were able to finance their son’s youthful interest in painting and travelling. As a young man Weeks visited the Florida Keys to draw, and also travelled to Surinam in South America. His earliest known paintings date from 1867 when he was eighteen years old, although it is not until his Landscape with Blue Heron, dated 1871 and painted in the Everglades, that Weeks started to exhibit a dexterity of technique and eye for composition—presumably having taken professional tuition.

In 1872 Weeks relocated to Paris, becoming a pupil of Léon Bonnat and Jean-Léon Gérôme. After his studies in Paris, Weeks emerged as one of America’s major painters of Orientalist subjects. Throughout his adult life he was an inveterate traveler and journeyed to South America (1869), Egypt and Persia (1870), Morocco (frequently between 1872 and 1878), and India (1882–83).

Weeks died in Paris in November 1903.[2] He was a member of the Légion d’honneur, France, an officer of the Order of St. Michael, Germany, and a member of the Munich Secession. More on Edwin Lord Weeks

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Author: Zaidan Art Blog

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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