Nonell is the champion of Post-Modernist painting in Catalonia. Following his frequent sojourns in Paris, where he took part in several Salons and in the 1897 exhibition entitled Impressionistes et Symbolistes, and held a one-man show at Ambroise Vollard's gallery two years later, he returned to Barcelona at the onset of the new century. Nonetheless, he continued to send works to the Parisian Salons, especially to the Salon des Indépendants, as well as to the National Salons held in Madrid and which he had formerly virtually ignored.
After his solo exhibition held in January 1902 at Barcelona's sala Parés, Nonell's iconographic repertoire focused on gypsies, usually portrayed individually or in small groups. His choice of subject matter was prompted by more than just a taste for exoticism, for he had sexual relations with several of his sitters, but 1906 was the last year in which Nonell looked exclusively to gypsy women as models for his portraits.
When he painted this picture Nonell was at odds with the Catalan art world: the classical circles did not accept him and the modern groups had begun to lack enthusiasm after the euphoria of Modernism, now on the decline. Nonell was consequently sceptical towards his own milieu.
The works he produced at that time were characterised by dark shades—the earliest of which no doubt exerted an influence on the figures portrayed in young Picasso's blue period—, a loose nervous brushstroke and numerous parallel touches that configured a highly personal form of Expressionism. [F.F.]
De Picasso a Bacon : arte contemporáneo en las colecciones del Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. [Cat. exp.]. Segovia : Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Esteban Vicente, 1999, p. 16.
Nonell : figures i espais .[Cat. exp.]. Barcelona : Fundació Caixa Girona, 2009, p. 70.
El Modernismo : de Sorolla à Picasso, 1880-1918. [Cat. exp.]. Laussane : Fondation de l'Hermitage, 2011, pp. 89 y 154, n. º 26.
Francesc Fontbona. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao : guía. Bilbao : Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao = Bilboko Arte Ederren Museoa, 2011 (1ª ed. 2006; ed. inglés; ed. francés; ed. euskera), p. 133, n.º 91, ad vocem.