Lot 143
  • 143

Rudolf Ernst Austrian, 1854-1932

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  • Rudolf Ernst
  • Admiring the Parrot
  • signed R. Ernst l.r.
  • oil on panel
  • 92 by 72cm., 36¼ by 28¼in.


Therese Schachner (Austrian landscape painter, 1869-1950)
Acquired or gifted from the above to the paternal grandfather of the present owners in 1946; thence by descent

Catalogue Note

European enthusiasm for orientalist subjects was ignited in the early 19th Century with colourful written tales and travelogues such as Thomas Moore's Lalla Rookh of 1817, Lord Byron's The Corsair of 1814, and most influential for whetting the European appetite, The Arabian Nights, published in 1840 in an updated and more decorous translation by E.W. Lane.

While painters such as Delacroix (lot 123) and Vernet took inspiration from political events for their orientalist subjects, the generation of artists that followed them, including Ernst (lots 140, 143, 147), Deutsch, Gérôme (lots 136, 148, 155) and Bauernfeind (lot 168) were more interested in depicting scenes from daily life.

Rudolf Ernst was infused with passion for the East, and was one of the artists to travel to Granada, Morocco and Tunis, and later on to Constantinople and Egypt to see the things he loved to paint. He settled in Paris in 1876, along with fellow Orientalist Ludwig Deutsch, and became a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon. From the mid 1880s he focused exclusively on orientalist scenes, which brought him great acclaim from American and European collectors alike. Ernst was fascinated with the culture, architecture and decoration of the Islamic Middle East, and his paintings display the breadth of his knowledge.

This composition shows off Ernst's fine rendering of a variety of sumptuous surfaces: the silky cloth of the young man's robe, the plumage of the parrot, the elaborate carved detail on the stone columns, and the intricate flowers and foliage of the hydrangea and trumpet tree planted in the courtyard fountain, loosely modelled on that in the Lion Courtyard in the Alhambra.