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Lot 4: Edwin Lord Weeks (American, 1849-1903)

An Important Private Collection of Ottoman & Orientalist Paintings

by Christie's

June 15, 2005

London, United Kingdom

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Description: Open market, Rabat, Morocco
signed and dated 'E. L. Weeks 1880' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. (46 x 76.5 cm.)
Painted in 1880.

Notes: Originally from Boston, Edwin Lord Weeks was - together with John Frederick Lewis (see lot 17) - the principal American exponent of Orientalism. A student Jean Léon Gérôme, Weeks travelled much more extensively than most of his French peers, exploring Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and Syria as well as India and large parts of Asia Minor.

He exhibited in the United Kingdom and his native America, but gained the greatest acclaim in France, where the appetite for Oriental subjects showed no sign of waning since first finding widespread acceptance in the 1830s. Weeks first exhibited at the Salon in 1878, ultimately obtaining, in 1896, the Salon's highest award of Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur. He extended his fame by travel writing, contributing to American magazines such as Harper's, which often reflected the public interest in Eastern culture. Many of these narratives were illustrated with his own sketches, and some were compiled in book form in From the Black Sea Through Persia and India, published in 1895.

According to Dr. Ellen K. Morris, the present work was painted in 1880 in the middle of a period of exclusively Moroccan paintings which were executed by Weeks between 1878 and 1882. Weeks travelled widely through Morocco but completed the present painting in his Paris studio, building up the composition from sketches made in situ. The citadel walls in the background of this painting appear in various other paintings by the artist. However, despite their topographical accuracy, in each painting the figures in the foreground have been altered to create entirely different scenes. In its careful emphasis on surface texture - for example the rendering of the camels' coats, textiles and sun-baked walls - and the wide horizontal sweep of the composition, this painting is entirely characteristic of Weeks' best works.

This painting is sold with a letter of authenticity from Dr. Ellen K. Morris dated 25 April 2005 and will be included in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work.

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.

Provenance: with Spanierman Gallery, New York.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 3 December 1987, lot 118.
with Vance Jordan Fine Arts, New York.

Artist or Maker: Edwin Lord Weeks (American, 1849-1903)

Exhibited: New York, Vance Jordan Fine Arts, Edwin Lord Weeks: Visions of India, 30 October-12 December 2002, no. 77.

Literature: G.M. Ackerman, American Orientalists, Paris, 1994, p. 247 (illustrated).
Exhibition Catalogue, Edwin Lord Weeks: Visions of India, Vance Jordan Fine Arts, New York, 30 Oct - 12 Dec 02, no. 77.

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