House interior signed 'Ralli' (lower left) oil on canvas 38 x 46.5 cm
PROVENANCE: Bonhams, Greek Sale, London, 23 May 2006, Lot 14.
Born in Constantinople of Greek parents, Ralli studied in Paris in the atelier of the leading pompier painter of the time, Jean-Léon Gérôme. He exhibited regularly at the Salon de Paris and was enthusiastically received by the French critics. Although his later work is characterized by scenes of the exotic world of the East and of Greece, his earlier work is comprised mostly of genre scenes.
Ralli was always interested in how people lived, their customs and traditions. In this interior scene Ralli provides a rare glimpse of a middle class sitting room of the late 19th century. Focusing on the furnishings in the present work, Ralli provides numerous hints as to the economic and social standing of the occupants, creating a "portrait" of their lives. The shelves lined with books, the ormolu clock, candelabra, paintings and carpets point to a family of means and education. With his characteristic attention to detail, Ralli has not only captured the cordial atmosphere of a corner of a sitting room, but has also provided a valuable visual record of a domestic interior of his time.