Girardet hailed from an artistic Swiss family, and even before his teacher Jean-Léon Gérôme encouraged him to visit North Africa he had long been inspired to travel by his uncles Karl and Edouard, who had journeyed to, and painted, Egypt; and from his father Paul, who had engraved episodes of the colonial war in Algeria after Horace Vernet. In 1874, Girardet embarked for Morocco, then travelled to Tunisia and Algeria, for which he developed a particular fondness. He spent subsequent visits in Algiers and Boghari, but above all in El Kantara and Bou-Saâda, in the foothills of the Saharan Atlas, painting scenes of daily life like the present one.
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