Lecomte du Noüy drew from this documentation for all the details and the accessories. At the Salon in 1877, he exhibited this painting, one of his most ambitious and accomplished works. Remarkable for both its complex composition and richness of detail, the artist combined a technical perfection reminiscent of Ingres with a photographic realism worthy of Gérôme, based on his wealth of documentation, to which he continually referred. The painting depicts the entrance of a harem at dawn: the sun is rising and, with it, the guards. The calm light of morning floods the composition: the birds fly gently towards the sky on the left, whilst one of the guards lights his first cigarette. The jaguar, on a step in the background, is on the watch: its green eyes and pink muzzle contrast with his black fur.
In 1876, Ernest Boysse (op. cit.) describes the painting as the following: "This painting, which touches upon one of the mysterious sides of oriental life, is a very remarkable work through its treatment of colour in general, which has both charm and harmony, and through the strangely ranked types of robust characters, [...] to whom the master entrusts the guard of his wives without concern". Duranty, in 1877 (op.cit.), notes that "the model is very precise, the colour is matt, firm, the scene very strange, the arrangement of taste and skill; the deep shade veils well, without obscuring them, the blue and green earthenware which play richly in tone with the rug, under the oblique rays of the rising day, whilst the sunlight haloes the distant buildings whose foundations are highlighted by the grey dawn."
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