José de Almada Negreiros – The Nap (1939)

Not only a complex Portuguese artist, but also a prolific writer, poet, actor, dancer and choreographer, he was a creative through and through. In writing, José de Almada Negreiros identified with Futurism and Dadaism, seeking to present the absurdity of life. In painting, he was just as modern, but more of a Realist. You can see the influences of Cubism in his portraits and human representations, like in the charcoal drawing The Nap.

Two lovers are lying down comfortably, the woman reclined on the man’s back, both asleep or just about to drift off. Almada’s use of sinuous lines achieves several effects. For starters, it enhances the sensuality of the lovers’ flesh, accentuating their shapely physiques. Their bodies appear softer as a result, suggesting peaceful contentment, a deep satisfaction and the warm coziness of their intimacy and love. Last but not least, their very round faces and arms may indicate youthful innocence.

Jose de Almada Negreiros - The nap
José de Almada Negreiros – The Nap (1939), charcoal on paper

Although the man is completely naked and the woman is wearing a diaphanous, strapless top that reveals her breasts, most of the sensuality of the drawing stems from the undulating lines and the way their bodies overlap. With her flustered face, the head pushed back and her lips half-open, the woman looks completely enraptured in rest and sultriness. While not a completely accurate representation of the couple, the drawing offers a warm, candid view of the lovers and leaves it up to us to imagine the narrative behind this tender scene and the couple’s relationship.

Bonus soundtrack: Alberto Iglesias – Me Voy a Morir de Tanto Amor | I am going to die of so much love

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Siesta is here finally.
    Love the writing as usual.
    Going to explore the painting in further detail.👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gabriela says:

      At last! I still haven’t found out what the Portuguese call ‘siesta’. The original title for this drawing is ‘A sesta’. Let me know if your explorations reveal something new.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eric Wayne says:

    Cool drawing. Never seen it before and I quite like it. The rendering isn’t accurate at all, and so it’s the stylistic interpretation that gives it its resonance. When an artist doesn’t work in a naturalistic style, but nevertheless works representationally, than her or she invents ways of rendering, and the shading and modeling here is very appealing. I can’t recal seeing a warmer depiction of a couple taking a nap. This one is iconic. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gabriela says:

      I thought it was a very endearing portrayal of lovers myself. Still, I can’t help but wonder how it would have looked in color. Seeing it in black and white makes me think of a memory or a vintage photograph, it adds a certain distance.

      Liked by 1 person

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