Lot 140
  • 140

Rudolf Ernst Austrian, 1854-1932

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  • Rudolf Ernst
  • Les Joueurs
  • signed and inscribed R. Ernst. Paris. l.r.
  • oil on panel
  • 72.3 by 92.5cm., 28½ by 36½in.


Patrick Berko, Brussels


Patrick Berko, Peinture Orientaliste, 1982, p. 119, illustrated

Catalogue Note

The khans, souks and bazaars of North Africa and the Middle East provided western artists with a wealth of ideas for subjects for their paintings. Craftspeople were eager to open their shops and stalls to Western trade. Ernst was a frequent visitor to the region's marketplaces and collected hundreds of objects, arranging them in his studio, where they became models for those displayed in Les Joueurs. Additionally, in participating in the economic exchange of the region, the artist observed first hand the ways in which its people interacted in their daily lives. As such, in the present work Ernst was able to describe the interior decorations, including the intricate wall tiles, rugs and ceramics, while accurately portraying the physiognomy, costumes and culture of the two men engaged in a game of chess.

Ernst's orientalist genre scenes were popular among collectors, who might not have the opportunity to visit far-off lands, witness its traditions and collect its art and artefacts. Paintings such as the present work became a way for American and European art buyers to own, in one composition, the myriad special objects and peoples of the region - no matter if certain elements were reconstructed a world away in Ernst's Paris studio.