Objects of Casa Museu Benlliure

Woman with Manila Shawl: “Maja”

Gender and the body

Gender stereotypes: Genius / muse 

Gender stereotypes: Desirer / object of desire 

Large format work by painter Peppino Benlliure (1884-1916). The artist uses rapid brush strokes to depict a Costumbrist theme of a young woman wrapped in a magnificent Manila shawl, her only item of attire. This young woman radiates sensuality through the movement of her delicate shawl and her bold attitude. The shawl, rather than shielding her body, accentuates the sensuality of her feminine forms, which she uses to tempt the viewer. A young woman who is proud of her body and dedicates her time to pose for the painter, who depicts her as a model of contained eroticism with a touch of elegance. Clothed in attire typical of the world of bullfighting and embellished with roses, the symbol of love and passion, her bare arms are visible, contrasting with the neutral background of the work which sets off the pearly light emanating from her skin. The painter shades her eyes to give her elusive gaze an enigmatic tone that wraps the painting in an air of mystery.

Tartane (Fishing Ship from El Cabanyal)

Sexual/gender division of labor  

Fishing was a long-standing and demanding profession in Valencia, performed traditionally by men. Fishing was done as a team. Many hands were needed to raise the sails, guide the vessels out to sea, bring the catch back to shore, repair the nets, fold the sails and caulk the ships. Men, women and children participated in all of these tasks. The women traditionally sat on the beach waiting for the fishing ships to return, equipped with large baskets to carry the fresh fish to market, as depicted in this work by José Benlliure Ortiz. It was also the women, at times accompanied by some of the older children, who were tasked with maintenance duties such as repairing sails and fishing nets. These paid activities were performed outside of the domestic sphere, and were complementary to domestic work. The women who sold fish on the streets or in the market were family of the fishermen, and their work contributed to the family income.

Young Girl from Torrent Making Bobbin Lace 

Gender and social class

Gender and life cycle

Gender and attire

In this work by José Benlliure Gil, the richly attired girl making bobbin lace in the privacy of her home depicts the paradigm of a young bride and future perfect wife. Young girls were educated in their roles as wife and mother within the family sphere. From a very young age, they were taught the tasks associated with the fairer sex. Domestic tasks included occupations related to dressmaking and ornamentation of attire, such as embroidery, knitting and lace-making, common activities for girls of well-to-do families. Such tasks filled a girl’s leisure time and allowed her to prepare her bridal trousseau, which was part of her dowry and evidence of the family’s economic standing.

Mare i Xiquet (Mother and Child) 

Maternity / Paternity

Gender and space

Sexual/gender division of labor

This scene of motherhood depicted by painter José Benlliure Ortiz takes us to the intimate world of the home, which has been the woman’s place throughout history. The woman, in her role as wife and mother, was responsible for responding to all of the family’s domestic needs, in contrast to the husband and father, who fulfilled the role of family breadwinner by working outside the home, and at the same time acting as legal guardian of both the children and his wife. Production was associated with men, who boasted the role of continuous procurement in the public sphere to provide for the family, while women held the role of reproduction within a reduced domestic space. This dichotomy based on sexual and gender differences was present in Valencian homes until well into the mid-20th century.