One of the most impressive and perhaps less well-known collections of the MNAC of Barcelona is the 19th century section. Among the works we can find are some jewelry such as oil painting “La Siesta” (The Nap) painted in 1884 by Ramon Martí Alsina, a paradigm of Catalan realistic painting.
Realism in the 19th century
Realism is an artistic current that seeks to capture reality as accurately as possible, without symbols or schemes, rejecting the world of fantasy and dreams. It seeks the detail, the closest proximity, in search of objectivity.
Gustave Courbet was the greatest exponent of this movement. His works inspired many other artists to follow him. Works like “The Desperate Man” or “The Origin of the World” are our favorites of all that Courbet did.
But there is one, “The Wounded Man”, which will quickly show us what was inspired by Martí Alsina.
And the fact is that in “La Siesta” we are fascinated by the fact that, fleeing from the representation of dreams, we are presented with a person who is sleeping the nap. And we see it in a clear and simple way, without having to speculate about what we dream or what it means.
He is simply a man who, after arriving home and having a good meal, sits in his armchair to read, as the book shows us on the floor and falls asleep.
The man has put on his slippers, as usual, in 19th-century fashion. Its presence makes us think of such a simple element, but at the same time almost idealized, which helps to give a romantic touch to everything.
We can come to know the identity of the sleeping man. Thanks to her clothes, we know he is a wealthy class, a merchant, or an official. In fact, it seems that this is Mr. Nicolau, the artist’s patron and accompanist in his Parisian parties.
If you liked this picture and want to see more, go to the MNAC website. You will find a sample of their collections. And when you come to Barcelona, do not hesitate to visit the Museum with one of us.