“El Kallaah”, the name of this painting, refers to the majestic Citadel of David in the background.
But the prominent subject is the woman in the center of the canvas, dressed in a typical oriental style. We can presume to know much more about her than meets the eye. In the 1890’s, after Alleaume visited Jerusalem, the only people that would have reason to leave the walled city of Jerusalem were jews living in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first neighbourhood built outside the walls.
This woman, carrying a basket of produce on her head, would probably have been on her way from the market inside the old city back home to Mishkenot Sh’ananim. The oriental attire was also typical of Jewish women during that period. The beggar is sitting next to the source of water supplied by the Turkish Sultan to the pedestrians on their way to Bethlehem and Hebron.