The Salying of Abencerrages is one of the works of Mariano Fortuny that can be seen in the MNAC modern art collection. This artist, who painted the Battle of Tetouan, the largest work exhibited in the museum, is famous above all for the detail of his paintings.
According to the legend, the king Abu Naser Saad, worried because the power of the Abencerrages was growing with the support of his own population, called at them and led them to the Alhambra Lions Courtyard where they waited to be received.
Saad’s slaves tied their feet and legs and put towels in their mouths. They were bullied, tortured, and executed. Blood splattered all over the hall, walls and ceiling. Since then that room is known as the Hall of Abencerrages.
In search of the south light
In 1872, Marià Fortuny, one of the most international painters in Catalonia, moved to Granada. He lived for two years. He was seduced by the light of Andalusia, a light that had been influencing him since his previous stay in Morocco. This light is what the French Impressionists discovered and studied. The light that they were looking for in the south of France and that the artists of the south had to look for, traveling further south still.
In Morocco, Fortuny broke free from the conventionalisms and academicisms that opted for a painting with darker colors. He was attracted to Oriental subjects, to the point that he learned Arabic. He also developed a journalistic painting that explained the atmosphere, the way of life, the clothes of the people. A painting that impresses, above all, the decorativism of the rooms or the variety of colors and shades.
And yet, unfinished
Fortuny obtained permission to directly paint the Hall of Abencerrages of the Alhambra in Granada. This allowed him to carry out various preparatory studies of both the characters and the architecture.
The Salying of Abencerrages, which remained unfinished, presents a forced perspective that is what allows us to get a broad vision of the entire drama. It is a staging where all the details are taken care of to the maximum. While the dead spread across the floor of the room, the executor, leaning against the wall, looks at the rest of the nobles on their knees at the entrance to the room.
You can see this work and others like The Battle of Tetuan or Spanish Wedding in the modern art collection of the National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC). Waiting for the moment to travel to Barcelona and visit it in person, we leave you a link to the Museum website so that you can see these and other works from the same period present in the collection.