Loading Spinner

Paul (1881) Lenoir (d. 1881)

Lot 147: Paul-Marie Lenoir , French 1843-1881 Cambyses at Pelusium oil on canvas


April 18, 2008
New York, NY, US

More About this Item


signed Paul Lenoir and dated MDCCCLXXII (lower right) oil on canvas


measurements 28 by 36 1/4 in. alternate measurements 71.1 by 92.1 cm


Paris, Salon, 1873, no. 937


Edward Strahan, The Art Treasures of America, Philadelphia, 1879, vol. II, pp. 47-48, illustrated, and in the 1977 facsimile edition, vol. III, pp. 42-43, 50, illustrated opposite p. 48
Album de Voyages des Artistes en éxpedition au Pays du Levant, Tel Aviv, 1995, p. 8, illustrated


Charles Crocker, San Francisco (by 1879)
Templeton Crocker (by descent from the above)
Sale: Parke-Bernet, New York, October 6, 1966, lot 74,illustrated
Maurice Sternberg (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collector, New Jersey
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, May 1, 2001, lot 24, illustrated
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


As this work reminds us, Odysseus with his Trojan horse was not unique in using an unconventional strategem to gain entrance into an otherwise impenetrable city. Cambyses, the king of the Persians, devised an ingenious ploy in the battle of Pelusium to vanquish the stubborn resistance of his enemy, the Egyptians. He ordered his military to collect all the cats belonging to Pelusium's inhabitants, a sacred animal according to their religion, and, in a final assault, to catapult the cats over the walls of their fortress city. The inhabitants were then left with an unenviable choice: return to the safety of their village and see their sacred animals desecrated, or risk their own lives by running into the line of battle to save their cats.

Lenoir was both a student and a favorite Eastern traveling companion of Jean-Léon Gérôme, as evidenced by their collaborative 1872 book, Le Fayoum, Le Sinai, et Petra, written by Lenoir and illustrated by Gérôme. Lenoir exhibited at the Salon from 1870 to 1880. He died at the young age of thirty eight while in Cairo in 1881. As such the skill and technique of the present work is particularly impressive and a testament to the artist's promise. This work will be sold in its original Salon frame.

Request more information

For Sale from Sotheby's