In the last half of the 19th century more and more European artists were interested in exotic old cultures, Arab matters in particular. So many of them travelled to North Africa and the Middle East. These were the so-called ‘Orientalists’. As far as the French ones are concerned, they were formally a group of artists. We need to point out the undeniable quality of painters such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, Giulio Rosati and Ludwig Deutsch, but nowadays the reality they depicted seems much stereotyped.
One of the most important one, although less known, was the Catalan painter Josep Tapiró i Baró (1836-1913), whose water-colour portraits are so splendid. The water-colour possibilities are taken to a maximum quality. Since his childhood he was a friend of Mariano Fortuny. Both of them studied Fine Arts. Greatly affected by Fortuny’s early death he left Spain in 1876 and settled in Tangier. He lived in the Moroccan town till his death.