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A question of propriety

oil on canvas
175.2 × 275.0 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1871
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International
This painting was commissioned from Long, a painter of portraits, historical and biblical scenes, by the National Gallery of Victoria in 1870. The NGV’s representative in London, Alfred Taddy Thompson, saw the unfinished original before it was exhibitited in the Royal Academy in 1871 and arranged for Long to paint this enlarged replica. The subject is taken from the book Arte de la pintura by Francesco Pacheco 1638, which was later dramatised in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s play The Spanish Student 1843, and shows a Gypsy dancer brought before the Spanish Inquisition on the charge of corrupting public morals. Captivated by her performance, the holy censures lean forward, their stern features softened with wonderment and pleasure.