Collection Online
A question of propriety
oil on canvas
175.2 × 275.0 cm
inscribed in red paint l.r.: 18 70 / EDWIN LONG
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1871
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
Not on display

Commissioned from the artist, 1870; arrived Melbourne, 1871.

Exhibited: Second Interchange Loan Collection of Oil Paintings and Watercolour Drawings, Sydney 1896, no. 2, repr.; lent W. A. Centenary Celebrations, Perth, 1929; The First Fifty Years: 19th Century British Art from the Gallery Archives, NGV, Melbourne, 1992; Hidden Treasures, David Jones Gallery, Sydney, 1992.

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 exhibited 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 censors lean forward, their stern features softened with wonderment and pleasure.