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.