Baltimore – The Walters Art Museum (Hindu Snake Charmers)

Taken in 2015 on a phone and the image compressed by Google hasn’t done much for this….

Fortunately, the museum allows free use of their images, so this one is rather more useful.

Painted by Marià Fortuny (Mariano José María Bernardo Fortuny y Marsal) in 1869 (he lived from 1838-1874), it was inspired by the journey that he made on General Prim’s military expedition to Morocco in 1860. The gallery notes about this painting:

“The artist, a collector of Islamic decorative arts, includes such accessories as a copper bowl, luster plate, and saddle.”

Anyway, it looks like an angry cobra which is being charmed by a turbaned man, with what I think is a stork looking on excitedly.

But, what I still think is exceptional is the sheer amount of information that the museum has provided about this painting. It was revarnished in 1951, had its condition checked in 1980, was examined for a loan in 1988 and then subjected to a technical study in 1989. And the provenance of the painting is also detailed, acquired by DH Foll of Geneva, sold in an art sale auction in New York in March 1887 to William Thompson Walters and then acquired by inheritance in 1894 by his son, Henry Walters. The painting was then given to the new museum in 1931 by Henry Walters, where it has remained since. I find this depth of information about a painting to add so much to understanding it, it’s a shame so few museums offer this level of detail.