- Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant
- The Sentinel
- signed Benj. Constant lower centre
- oil on canvas
Benjamin-Constant, Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism, exh. cat., Toulouse & Montreal, 2014, p. 220, fig. 275, a print after the painting illustrated (as Janissary)
Underlying his Orientalist subjects is a rigorous academic training and skill at rendering the human anatomy, acquired at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under the history painter Alexandre Cabanel. Here, the stoic pose of the sentinel is masterfully observed, every muscle in his body taught and alert. His accoutrements, even down to the Mamluk glass bottle on the wall, are observed in minute detail. Benjamin-Constant's studio in Pigalle became a veritable emporium of objects collected on his journeys, ranging from rugs and fabrics to furniture and weapons.
The painting is offered in an elaborate gilt frame embossed in Arabic with the words 'There is no Victor but God', the motto of the Emirate of Granada and of the Nasrid Dynasty, and which is worked into the decoration of the Alhambra, built by that dynasty.