By Alberto Vargas
About the image
In this painting of "Scheherazade," the legendary princess who crafted the tales of 1,001 Arabian Nights (posed here by Marie Prevost, star of the Ziegfeld stage and the silent screen), Alberto Vargas captures the magic and beauty of the imaginative princess; he seems to have portrayed her as a genie, as she cradles Sinbad's ship in her hand. Alberto's knowledge of the legend of "Scheherazade" - combined with his own brilliant imagination - brought us this wonderful and dynamic work of art.
In the story, a sultan, having discovered his queen's infidelity, not only had her executed, but also vowed to take a new wife each day, and then have her put to death the following morning at sunrise. As a result, many beautiful young maidens lost their lives.
But Scheherazade, the Grand Vizier's eldest daughter, outwitted the king. Before sunrise, she began telling a marvelous story: a tale so enchanting, that when it came time for her execution, the Sultan's desire to hear the conclusion to the story, prompted him to spare her life until the following day. That night, the princess finished her story, only to start a new one. Once again, the Sultan granted her a 24-hour reprieve in order to hear how this new tale would end.
Cleverly, Scheherazade always began a new story immediately following the conclusion of the last, thus causing the sultan to continually extend her stay of execution. After 1,001 nights of fantastic stories, stories which included "Aladdin," "Alibaba and the Forty Thieves," and "Sinbad the Sailor," the king either forgot his vow, or dismissed it.
Originally painted in 1921, published in 1980.