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by Christie's

19 lots with images

October 31, 2001

New York, NY, USA

F‚lix-Fran‡ois-Georges-Philibert Ziem (French, 1821-1911)

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Description: Porte des Janissaires signed 'Ziem.' (lower left) oil on panel 221/2 x 29 in. (57.2 x 73.7 cm.) PROVENANCE Anon. sale, Palais Gall‚ria, Paris, 13 June 1974, lot 429. J. Michelman Ltd., New York. Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1980. LITERATURE A. Burdin-Hellenbranth, Felix Ziem 1821-1911, 1998, p. 270, no. 1613 (illustrated). NOTES Constantinople, the cradle of numerous cultures, was a muse for European artists during the 19th Century. Visiting artists, either realizing Royal commissions or carrying out their personal travels, have numerous times tried to depict the captivating effects and the extraordinary beauty of this poetic Ottoman city. Built on seven hills, with a deep blue sky that rests on his numerous minarets and its Byzantine walls enveloping its palaces and monuments, the city of Constantinople was a source of inspiration as well as a wonder for the Western travelers. Ziem produced no fewer than 142 paintings of Hagia Sophia, Corne d'Or, Bosphorus and Skudari, as well as around 20 paintings of fountains and sites on the Asian side of this marvelous city. In Ziem's paintings, it is of notable importance that the artist frequently aims to communicate the light effects of the bright sun and the crisp sea of Constantinople rather than the wonders of its architectural accomplishments. Although the present painting dominantly features an architectural structure, the sense and feel of this Constantinople is communicated brilliantly through its bright blue sunlit skies and its glittering colors, rather than an accurate and academic study of the monument. A slightly larger version of the present work is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (fig. 1) which includes more of the coast line and hence is proportionally a wider painting. F‚lix Ziem, after studying architecture in Dijon, worked as a surveyor on the construction of the Marseille canal before his watercolors attracted the patronage of Ferdinand-Philippe, Duc d'Orleans. Although known principally for his views of Venice, which he visited on numerous occasions, he also painted in Constantinople, North Africa and the forest of Fontainebleau. His many foreign journeys included visits to Russia in 1843-4, the Middle East and North Africa at least five times between 1847 and 1859 and London in 1849 and 1852. Ziem enjoyed financial success during his lifetime and owned a studio in Paris and Martigues in the South of France (now the location of the Mus‚e Ziem). (fig. 1) F‚lix Ziem, Porte des Janissaires, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia.

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EugŠne Fromentin (French, 1820-1876)

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Description: The Horse Merchant signed and dated 'Eug. Fromentin 75' (lower left) oil on canvas 26 x 32 in. (66 x 81.3 cm.) Painted in 1875 PROVENANCE Whitford Gallery, London. Galerie Arlette Gimaray, Paris. Prince Naguib Abdalla. Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1979. LITERATURE J. Thompson and B. Wright, La vie et les oeuvres d'Euene Fromentin, Paris, 1987, p. 303 (illustrated). NOTES To the left stands a group of four Arabs. The first two, in similar black and white burnouses, draw their heads close together, as if to confer. Slightly further back, a figure in a red burnous observes their confabulation. The final and most imposing figure heads the group. Except for his pale pink slippers and sash, his burnous is all white, as is the short beard upon his chin. Overlapping the thin azure strip that suggests the Mediterranean Sea, he connects with the illuminated peninsula of descending sky. His pose, his fixed stare, and his striking distinguished looks all mark him as the most imposing person in the painting. Beyond a small patch of ground, he faces the picture's dominant motif. It is a rearing chestnut horse, mounted by an Arab clad in pink, red, and white, seated as calmly and comfortably as if he were reclining in an armchair. If the cavalier is calmly in control, his horse is spirited, as evidenced by the white of its back-turned eyes and its eloquent open mouth. His long flowing tale sweeps the ground, providing visual support for the single hoof that briefly bears all the animal's weight. Beyond is another unsaddled horse, an alert bay with a thin blaze on its forehead, attended by a groom in a red suit. Scattered figures, mostly seated, watch from a distance. Surrounding and setting off the equestrian group is a wooded ridge, which descends in the distance to be edged by white rectangular buildings. Despite the atmospheric looseness of handling, what is taking place becomes clear. The chestnut and the bay are being shown off, with an eye to purchase, to the distinguished Caid or Sultan and his entourage, perhaps even to his rivals. The picture is about the profound relationship, a kind of identity, between Arab men and their horses. This is not a picture that represents a specific situation, in terms of place or time. One would have a difficult time identifying when or where it takes place. There are two larger versions of this subject, both about a meter by a meter and a half in size (fig. 1). Each includes several more figures, notable some Arab horsemen facing the rearing horse, who is placed on the left facing right in the larger pictures. Praising the Orientalist paintings of Delacroix, whom he knew and much admired, Fromentin wrote "what is most beautiful with him is what is most general" (E. Fromentin, "Une ann‚e dans le Sahel" in EugŠne Fromentin, Oeuvres complŠtes, Paris, 1984, p. 326). As Baudelaire had pointed out in his review of the Salon of 1859 "[Fromentin] is neither precisely a landscape nor a genre painter; these two territories are too limited to contain his free and supple fancy. If I said of him that he is a teller of traveler's tales, I should not be saying enough, for there are many travelers with neither poetry or soul, and his soul is one of the rarest and most poetic that I know" (C. Baudelaire, "Salon de 1859" in Charles Baudelaire: Oeuvres complŠtes, Paris, vol II, p. 649). Nevertheless, the painting's loose, shimmering beauty does have a historical context as well as a message mixed from observation and fantasy. In 1853 General Daumas, a central figure in French-Algerian colonialism, briefly adopted his former foe and prisoner Abd-el-Kader as a literary collaborator, much as Buffalo Bill later hired the great Chief Sitting Bull to play in his Wild West show. Daumas had decided that scattered sentiments from perhaps the most celebrated Arab leader since Saladin might be appropriate for a second edition of his book, The Horses of the Sahara. In his text Daumas had made the startling assertion that, at the height of his power, his fellow author had executed every (Muslim) believer convicted of selling a horse to a non-believer! Without confessing such behavior, Abd-el-Kader did opine that the horse was "after man...the most noble, the most patient, the most useful of created beings" (E. Daumas, The Horses of the Sahara and the Manners of the Desert, London, 1863, pp. 13 and 37-8). Fromentin, who owned several books by Daumas and often borrowed information about Algeria from him, wrote soon after "the gallop of a well-mounted horse is still a unique spectacle, as is every equestrian exercise performed to display, in their moments of common activity and accord, the two most intelligent and finished creatures in form which God has made" (E. Fromentin, op. cit., pp. 354-5). The close association of Arab man and Arab steed in their natures and appearance is a fundamental theme in Fromentin's pictures. Both have the same elegance, the same fire, the same lean muscularity. Baudelaire remarked that Fromentin had been struck by the patrician dandyism and gravity of Arab tribal chiefs and an important accompanying attribute of those qualities was a sleek horse, "caressed", like their masters, "with a silk brush" (A. Silvestre, Portraits et souvenirs, Paris, 1891, p. 123). In Fromentin's oil sketch of standing Arabs in the Ackland Museum (fig. 2), there is no horse; but the related poses and orientation of the subjects reveal that they are regarding an unseen animal outside the picture. The sheen of Fromentin's horses, structured and polished like elegant furniture, was often echoed in the highlights gracing the fine folds of a hand-woven burnous. Fromentin once revealed a surprising source for the sparkling coats of his Arab horses: his close friend Gustave Moreau; "I owe Moreau more than he owes me", he once told the painter Jules Breton, "He taught me to put the shine on a horse's rump" (J. Breton, Nos peintres du siŠcle: l'art et les artistes, Paris, 1899, p. 178). The idle, dandified stylishness of Arab men and their horses was achieved through the hard labor of Arab women, notably the onerous task of hauling water. Fromentin painted that subject several times, including a picture in the 1850-51 Salon whose caption included an emphatic quote from General Daumas: "the Saharan man does absolutely nothing" (B. Wright, EugŠne Fromentin: A Life in Art and Letters, Bern, 2000, p. 219). Small wonder that these males might come to be identified closely with their horses. When Lamartine wrote a stirring poetic tribute to the Arabian horse, he addressed the spirited animal as "my proud Sultan". Many travel writers remarked the social equality in Arab society, but ownership of a fine horse was a simple means of improving one's status. As Fromentin wrote: "In the eyes of an Arab, a good horse establishes a man's superiority. Lacking any other sign, there is nothing which gains you such esteem; because their respect attaches itself only to that which is an agreed mark of rank, of fortune, and of command, and to come after others encourages the presumption that one follows a master" (E. Fromentin, op. cit, p. 69). Having attained such great fluency in his depiction of the Arab man and his horse, Fromentin's resolution late in his life to recommence his studies with both an Arab horse and an Eastern male model shortly before he painted this picture come somewhat as a surprise. He hired an Indian named Euloge and bought a small Arab horse called Salem for close study of equine and human anatomy. His belated application is as commendable as it was surprising. Speaking of his visual knowledge of "my animal," he wrote to a friend, the landscape painter Charles Busson on 18 September 1874: "There is a world to study." (B. Wright, op cit, vol. II, p. 1182). Sketches like the handsome one from the Museum in Fromentin's native La Rochelle demonstrate an unexpected perceptual realism that is quite different from the fluid abstraction found in his sale pictures. Making clear his conscious transforming process of observed nature into exercises in virtuoso brushwork, which look as much backward to the 18th Century as forward to Impressionism. No doubt noting the skill of Fromentin's brush as well as the felicity of his words in creating a sense of atmosphere and place, France's nonpareil 19th Century literary critic, Sainte-Beuve, wrote of Fromentin's twin talents: "He has two muses. He is a painter in two languages, an amateur in neither, he is a conscientious artist, fine and severe in both" (C.-A. Sainte-Beuve, Nouveaux Lundis, Paris, 1867, vol. VII, p. 102). Focusing on Fromentin's visual language, Henri Focillon, one of France's greatest art historians, excellently invoked the special qualities of Fromentin's best pictures: "His painting is fine, lively, knowledgeable, fresh and singing in its tones: it has beauty when it conserves the looseness of the sketch and the melting energy of a structure of touches...The extreme elegance of vision and of craft refine these cruel knights' (H. Focillion, la peinture aux XIXŠme et XXŠme siŠcles: Du R‚alisme … nos jours, Paris, 1927, vol. II, p. 83). Once considered fearsome and barbaric, these Algerian knights are, through Fromentin's brush, as noble as their horses, attired with elegance, illumined with nostalgia. We are grateful to James Thompson for preparing this catalogue entry. (fig. 1) EugŠne Fromentin, Le marchand des chevaux, Private Collection. (fig. 2) EugŠne Fromentin, Cinque Arabes debout, 1874, Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ackland Fund.

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Ludwig Deutsch (Austrian, 1855-1935)

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Description: The Answer signed and dated 'L. Deutsch 1883' (upper left) oil on panel 18 x 113/4 in. (45.6 x 29.8 cm.) Painted in 1883 PROVENANCE Anon. sale, Sotheby's Humberts, Taunton, 26 September 1979, lot 554. The Fine Art Society, Ltd., London. Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1980. NOTES Painted during Deutsch's first trip to Egypt in 1883, The Answer is a masterpiece of observation and meticulous execution. In order to communicate even the most microscopic of detail, Deutsch paints with a hair line brush and strives to include every single wrinkle, every single thread and every single link of chain mail. His influences for the fantastical architecture are mainly from Egypt and Damascus, yet his eclectic compilation of the individual objects and details is truly Ottoman. Based on a smaller study for the present work (fig. 1) (sold Christie's, London, 18 June 1998, lot 68) we can trace the visual alterations Deutsch has made on this composition. He changed the pattern of the marble floor tiles in order to lighten up its hue. In the study black and white tiles are laid down like a chessboard making an even ratio between the two colors. In the present composition, smaller black tiles are fitted between the corners of four larger white tiles - a ratio of one black tile to four white tiles - which creates a greater sense of light. On the other hand, in both compositions, Deutsch has used the exact same blue and white tiles to cover the wall behind the servant. These 17th Century Syrian tiles are most likely from Damascus, yet in actuality they would have been laid down differently than depicted here. Ceramic tiles from Iznik, Diyarbakir and Damascus all depict flower scrolls, which are symbols in Islam for intellectual growth and God's continuous presence in nature. Although large groupings of such scrolls produced by four, six or eight tiles were repeated throughout even larger designs, individual tiles were not repeated in purely geometric patterns. The tile grouping, therefore, appears to be based on a single tile that might have been in his private collection. A similar example of another prop is the mighfar, which appears in lot 16 as well. The painting is further enriched by numerous objects such as the 18th Century Turkish tombak ewer and basin resting on a 19th Century Syrian mother-of-pearl table with a 19th Century Indo-Persian shield resting against it. The Chieftain wears a beaded Balkan yatagan decorated with chalcedonies strapped tightly in his dusty rose sash, which he wears on an Ottoman gold and silver threaded silk robe ( aba ) topping a white striped cloak ( jubba ). An elegant cape is the brilliant finish to this fine combination of fabrics, whose light brown stripes match the color of the leather babouches . The servant in the back, holding an Arabian sword, wears an Indo-Persian arm protector and a Turkish dagger that is strapped in his green sash. Deutsch rarely suggests an anectode in his compositions. Here, the Chieftain, dressed to address the public, is caught leaving the private realm of his residence. The nearly closed Syrian doors behind him most likely are the entranceway to his harem providing an explanation for the armed Nubian guard's presence at the gate. (fig. 1) Ludwig Deutsch, L'Emir, Private Collection.

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Jean-L‚on G‚r“me (French, 1824-1904)

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Description: Chef Arnaut faisant la sieste (Arnaut Chief taking a Nap) signed 'J.L. Gerome' (lower right) oil on canvas 181/2 x 241/2 in. (47 x 62.3 cm.) Painted circa 1882 PROVENANCE Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 26 May 1977, lot 62. The Fine Art Society, Ltd., London, 1981. Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1981. ENGRAVED Goupil & Cie., 1881-83. LITERATURE E. Strahan, ed., G‚r“me, A Collection of the Works of J.L. G‚r“me in 100 Photograveurs, New York, 1881, vol. II. Oeuvres de J. L. G‚r“me, Cabinet des stampes, BibliothŠque Nationale, Paris, vol. XX, p. 9. P. Cruysmans, Orientalist Painting, Brussels, 1982, p. 40 (illustrated). G. Ackerman, The Life and Work of Jean-L‚on G‚r“me, Paris, 1986, p. 248, no. 303 (illustrated). G. Ackerman, La Vie et l'Oeuvre de Jean-L‚on G‚r“me, 2nd ed., Paris, 2000, p. 305, no. 303 (illustrated). NOTES G‚r“me gained his fame and reputation by the great history paintings he sent to the Salons. He gained his bread and butter by many finely executed and well-thought-out house pictures that he produced throughout his life, among which were many single-figure compositions, often full-length studies of costumed inhabitants of the Near East. That they were modest in size, without narrative or anecdote, did not mean they were any less carefully painted than his larger historical works, even if the preparation were simpler. This we can verify by the tightly composed, tightly painted Arnaut Chief taking a Nap. In this small masterpiece, every object is beautifully painted, not just accurately in physical detail, but in its relationship to the light and atmosphere of the picture. The inlaid bench sets up a small frame surrounding the soldier, his limbs playing counterpoint to its edges; the long thin neck of his pipe almost bounces out of the darkness in response to lines built by the gun and sword on the wall. The guns in his leather holster belt gleam out of a dark, obscure space. The strings of the tassels of the Arnaut's shirt amusingly hang across his chest, some overlapping the holster belt, which enabled the Arab to carry a small arsenal of arms. The handles of the guns and swords tucked into its folds gleam out of the dark space around them, yet they maintain their positions in space. The sword with the split ivory handle is familiar from many of his other paintings; it was a prize piece in his collections. More elaborate holsters existed in G‚r“me's collection of properties, as in the Bashi-Bazouk and Dog (fig. 1) (Ackerman, no. 156) with two of the pistols in this sale's lot 10, A Bashi-Bazouk Chieftan. G‚r“me's models usually wore the brown leather holster with the red pantaloons worn here. The figure, with his full shoulders and arms under the shiny pink blouse, is not just resting; he has taken time out for serious thought, made clear in his expression and in the hand absent-mindedly holding the pipe. The head is not lost in the encompassing white turban, but rather fills it with its burliness and bulk; his bone structure is so strong that it informs the white cloth with the shape and bulk of his head. The hands are both carefully poised, each with an artful spread of fingers; the left foot is placed so that the big toe echoes the knob on the bench floor below it. Below the base of the chair, a jaunty pattern of pipe and shoes works its way across the floor. The Arnaut Chief is isolated inside the chair, yet the shape is integrated into the composition. The rest of the canvas is animated by the movement of light against the nuanced surface of the wall, and by the striking brace of weapons hanging on the wall, seemingly carelessly, but actually precisely placed compositionally. The fineness of the details would be in any other hands finicky, but G‚r“me is so carefully characterizing body and fabrics that the effect is one of completeness rather than over elaboration. On top of that is his sustained concentration on the total effect; nothing stands out, everything fits into the ensemble. The same model, with a different - if still large - turban and jacket posed for a splendid drawing offered at Christie's London (17 June 1999, lot 17) which became the basis for another painting, the lost Arnaut Chief (fig. 2) (my cat. no. 305). We are grateful to Gerald Ackerman for preparing this catalogue entry. (fig. 1) Jean-L‚on G‚r“me, Bachi-Bouzouk and Dog, 1870, Private Collection. (fig. 2) Jean-L‚on G‚r“me, Arnaut Chief, 1870-1880, whereabouts unknown. (fig. 3) After Jean-L‚on G‚r“me, Arabian Warrior Resting, 1881, photograveur.

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Gustav Bauernfeind (German, 1848-1904)

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Description: Forecourt of the Ummayad Mosque, Damascus signed and inscribed 'G. Bauerfeind, Damaskus-Mnchen' (lower left) oil on panel 471/4 x 361/4 in. (120.8 x 92.2 cm.) Painted in 1890 PROVENANCE H. Stait, Shepard's Close, Gloustershire; Sotheby's, London, 24 November 1976, lot 243. (Probably) Fine Arts Society, Ltd., London and thence acquired by the present owner. LITERATURE P. Cruysmans, Orientalist Painting, Brussels, 1982, p. 103 (illustrated). A. Carmel and H. Schmid, The Life and Work of Gustav Bauernfeind, Orientalist Painter, Stuttgart, 1990, pl. 159 (illustrated). E. Gnther, Faszination des Fremden, Mnster, 1990, p. 84 (illustrated as no. 45). P. Khner, Gustav Bauernfeind - Gem„lde und Aquarelle, Frankfurt and Main, 1995, p. 217 (illustrated on p. 300). H. Schmid, ed., Gustav Bauernfeind: Die Reise nach Damascus 1888/1889, Tbingen and Basel, 1996, p. 99 (illustrated). L. Thornton, Du Maroc aux Indes, Voyages en Orient, Paris, 1998, p. 242 (illustrated). NOTES Gustav Bauernfeind, arguably the most skilled of all German Orientalists, was born on 4 August 1848 in Sulz am Neckar. Following his graduation from the Stuttgart Polytechnic Institute, he first joined the architectural office of Professor Wilhelm Baumer and later of Adolf Gnauth where he made the initial transition from architect to painter. As an employee of Gnauth he was assigned to a project for Johann Christoph Engelhaus in Italy during 1873-74 and even at this early age his tremendous attention to detail was apparent. As he was having difficulty in selling these German bourgeois village scenes successfully and together with the advice of those close to him, he decided to visit the Middle East and alter the manner of his painting in accordance with the contemporary vogue. Consequently, it is conceivable that his first visit of 1880 to this region was not so much caused by a religious fascination with the Holy Land but instead was powered by the financial opportunities awaiting a painter of Orientalist subject matters. Yet, through time Bauernfeind's attraction to these lands grew beyond their economic promises and he continued to live in Jaffa despite the ceaselessly unprofitable nature of his artistic production. His initial trip of 1880 to Syria and Palestine was followed by a second trip in 1884 to Beirut, Damascus and Jaffa where he met his future wife Elise Bertsch. In October of 1888, Bauernfeind left Germany for a third trip to the Middle East - the most extensively documented period of his life - and arrived in Jaffa. With over a week's delay due to severe flooding he finally boarded an Egyptian steamboat Fayiem that took him north to Beirut from where he continued inland toward Damascus. Popularly known for its silks and dried fruit, Damascus is in fact one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. As recorded in 15th Century B.C. Egyptian inscriptions, it was the capital of a city-state and hence been conquered by the Assyrians, Alexander the Great, the Seljuks, the Mamelukes, Timurlane, the Ottomans, the Egyptians as well as the British. During the Ottoman rule it was considered to be one of the leading centers of the Empire after Constantinople, Cairo and Jerusalem. Certainly the monumental and commanding architecture of the Ummayad Mosque as well as the 200 smaller mosques sprinkled throughout this ancient city, including one planned by no other than the great architectural genius Sinan himself, only begin to hint at the rich layers of cultural inheritance embedded here. Yet according to Gustav Bauernfeind's well recorded accounts from 1888-89, there were only about 40 Europeans residing in this city of 150,000 occupants, which may explain why Damascus was rarely featured in Orientalist paintings of the day. On November 24th Bauernfeind checked into the Hotel Viktoria and almost immediately began his thorough and systematic sketches of the city. Unlike Karl Baedeker's Palestine and Syria: Handbook for Travellers - a standard guide book published in 1876 - Bauernfeind's diaries are a rare and insightful resource as to the difficulties surrounding a European traveler, particularly in this part of the region. The quality of Bauernfeind's in situ watercolors and study drawings dating back to this period are even more astonishing in light of his daily struggles on the streets and rooftops of Damascus. The Syrian Muslims viewed drawing and painting as an attempt to imitate God's creation and hence considered it a sin. Clearly this only made it more difficult for Bauernfeind to visit, study and draw their everyday lives as well as their sacred temples and mosques. Although detailed travel books were available to European travelers it was common and even advisable to make the acquaintance of other westerners living in the regions one was visiting. Furthermore, both a translator as well as a guide was at the top of a traveler's priority list. Bauernfeind has documented receiving recommendations for notable sights in Damascus from Sister Breuner and Dr. von Dyk in Beirut and from his arrival in Damascus onward, Dragoman Franz (le baron de Damaskus) and a Mr. Koch kept him company most evenings as well as on Sundays. His translator on the other hand accompanied him through the day and mainly arranged for the mosque wardens to receive Baksheesh - usually 6 or 9 piasters a day - which would purchase Bauernfeind an unofficial permit to paint the sites. The only exception was on Fridays - a religious holiday in Islam - when Bauernfeind would often take care of correspondence as well as his accounts instead of painting. His first day, Monday November 25th, was spent sketching the S–k el cotton (Cotton Bazaar) at which time he was surrounded by young and curious crowds who protested his activities. Because of the loud reactions of the public Bauernfeind recorded having to climb up on the rooftops in order to sketch the minaret of the Galciye Mosque in peace. Compositional restrictions of such a bird's eye view required him - as distracting as his audience may have been - to return to the street level and try out a new location by the girls' school. Finally he took a break from the distracting crowds near the bazaar and visited the Ummayad Mosque for the first time on 2 December 1888. In fact the structure left a great impression on Bauernfeind: 'Dann ein sehr dankbares Motiv "Eingangstor in die grosse Moschee" entdeckt. Es wird sehr schwierig sein, dasselbe zu malen. Wenn es m”glich ist, so hoffe ich ein sch”nes Bild zustande zu bringen'. (G. Bauernfeind, p. 14) The beauty of this architectural edifice combined with the outstanding compositional opportunities it presented - particularly involving light and volume - captivated Bauernfeind for the next six months. Encouraged by his architectural background, his tremendous attention to detail and exactitude is apparent when viewing the Forecourt of the Ummayad Mosque, Damascus . As evident in his diaries as well as the preparatory drawings, the amount of comprehensive work that was invested in the production of the present oil is most impressive. The Ummayad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque, is believed to be the building site of an Armean Temple to the God of Hadad dating back to 3000 B.C.. Built in the 1st Century AD and again renovated under Septimus Severus during 193-211 A.D., the site housed a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. Arcadius of the Byzantine Empire restored and converted the Roman temple into a Christian Church naming it the Church of St. John (395-408 A.D.) as it held a casket with the head of the Baptist on display. Following the Arab conquest of the city Welid, son of Abd el-Melik and the sixth Ummayad Khalif, entered negotiations with the Christians residing in the city regarding the purchase of their rights over the location. "The Christians however declined to part with their Church, and it was then taken from them, either without compensation or according to a more probable account, in return for the guaranteed possession of several other churches in and around Damascus, which had not hitherto been expressly secured to them. The Khalif himself is said to have directed the first blow to the altar, as a signal for its destruction, to the great grief of the Christians. He then proceeded, without entirely demolishing the old walls, to erect a magnificent mosque on the site of the church. This building is extravagantly praised by Arabic authors, genii are said to have aided its construction, and 1,200 artists to have been summoned from Constantinople to assist. (...) Antique columns were collected in the towns of Syria and used in the decoration of the mosque. The pavement and the lower walls were covered with the rarest marbles, while the upper parts of the walls and the dome were enriched with mosaics. The prayer niches were inlaid with precious stones and golden vines were entwined over the arches of the niches. The ceiling was of wood inlaid with gold, and from it hung 600 golden lamps. Prodigious sums are said to have been expended on the work. (...) Omar ibn Abd el-Aziz (717-720 A.D.) caused the golden lamps to be replaced by others of less value. In 1609 part of the mosque was burned down and since the conquest of Damascus by Timurlane the building has never been restored to its ancient magnificence." (K. Baedeker, Palestine and Syria: handbook for travelers, Leipsic, 1876, p. 482). In fact, yet another fire was responsible for destroying the decorations of the forecourt of the Ummayad Mosque in 1893 (fig. 1). Indeed, the present work by Bauernfeind of 1890, is one of the very rare painted accounts of this site and a comparison with a contemporary photograph of the forecourt (fig. 2) illustrates that the marble floor panels, the blue and white damask tile panels as well as the ancient mosaics on the side walls have been lost during the fire of 1893. Between 2 December 1888 and 18 May 1889, Bauernfeind sketched the forecourt of the Ummayad Mosque as well as the entrance to the Sinan Pasha Mosque practically every day and as a result, paid both of the mosque's wardens a rather hefty sum for informal permissions. An additional expense was paying the models. All of the figures included in these paintings are based on actual models that Bauernfeind became acquainted with on the streets of Damascus and paid handsomely in order to execute darwings of them. On 11 April 1889, for example, Bauernfeind noted in his diaries meeting a snake charmer who posed for five photographs for an undisclosed price. In the Forecourt of the Ummayad Mosque, Damascus, the snake charmer on the right is based on these photographic records. At the conclusion of these six months of extensive studies at no less than five but no more than ten locations throughout Damascus, Bauernfeind returned to Germany to transfer his watercolors and studies into large oil compositions. Two examples of such smaller studies are figures 3 and 4, which became the basis of two major oil compositions, the present work and figure 5, respectively. In the present work, Bauernfeind chooses to open up the focal point of the composition in order to create a greater sense of depth and procession, thus including the ablutions fountain as seen in the far background (fig. 6). Of equal importance, the artist moves the viewer's standpoint to the right. This is an interesting compositional challenge for Bauernfeind since the only available sketch of the forecourt was the one he executed as seen from the left to the right half of the doorway. Upon closer inspection it is apparent that Bauernfeind, instead of creating a left door panel from imagination based loosely on the sketch of the right door panel, has decidedly used the right door panel with precise accuracy as if it were the left door panel. As with the snake charmer, all of the remaining figures in this painting are based on his studies, sketches and photographs of locals whom he encountered at the bazaars or on the streets and often paid them between 6 and 10 Piasters to pose for him. A particularly notable quality in these figure groupings is Bauernfeind's mastery in depicting lusciously colored textiles filled with bright sunlight and juxtaposing them against metal armor, stone structure and skin tones. From 1888 until 1890 Bauernfeind received an advance totaling 6,500 marks from the British dealer Arthur Sulley for a painting based on the entrance of the Sinan Pasha Mosque. Most of this sum was already spent on the daily expenses explained here, together with his hotel rent. By 1891, annoyed by Bauernfeind's unhurried pace, as well as the outstanding advance, Sulley terminated their commercial agreement. Finally the owed painting - lot 9 and titled Warden of the Mosque - was delivered to Sulley far too late to regain his trust. From this point onward Bauernfeind did not receive any advances for future commissions from his patron and furthermore, he had to pay the freight cost of finished works to England in order to present them to Sulley for possible purchase. Sulley did not purchase the present work, mainly due to the frictions between him and Bauernfeind. (fig. 1) Photograph of the Ummayad Mosque after the fire of 1893, Courtesy of the New York Public Library. (fig. 2) Contemporary photograph of the Forecourt of the Ummayad Mosque, Courtesy of the New York Public Library. (fig. 3) Gustav Bauernfeind, Westlicher Eingang zur grossen Moschee, 1889, Munich, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung. (fig. 4) Gustav Bauernfeind, Study for the Forecourt of the Great Mosque, Private Collection. (fig. 5) Gustav Bauernfeind, The Forecourt of the Great Mosque, Private Collection. (fig. 6) Plan of the Ummayad Mosque. SALESROOM NOTICE Period frame on loan from Eli Wilner and available for purchase. Please inquire with department.

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