This atmospheric 19th-century oil painting by British artist, George Peploe Brown (1840-1909) depicts the alter at Seville Cathedral, Spain with choir boys dancing the 'Baile de Los Seises’.
Three times a year, a dance is performed in Seville Cathedral that dates back to at least the 16th century. The Baile de Los Seises involves ten choir boys dressed in traditional attire (usually red and yellow striped doublets when commemorating the Feast of the Sacred Heart). Originally it was performed to the simple sounds of the castanets and singing but when Brown visited, it would’ve been more orchestral.
The ceremony is quite complex and begins with a line before the altar. From here, after gaining permission to commence, the dancers don plumed hats and form two lines. These then move towards each other, return, and form a circle.
As you can see, the ceremony is watched by a considerable crowd and would’ve been an interesting experience for the artist to witness. Spain was an important place for Brown as it helped him to find solace following the loss of his wife. He painted this scene seven years after Harriette’s sudden death so perhaps the energy, warmth and powerful Gothic architecture provided the spiritual haven he needed.
Signed/titled and dated. Held within a fine gilt frame with reeded border and leaves to the corners.