Sale: Phillips Son & Neale, London Eugene Iglesias, Los Angeles (purchased from the above in the late 1950s) John Braun, Alhambra (purchased from the above in the late 1970s) Gordon Anderson (by company takeover in 1980-1; gift to LACMA in 2006)
The composition perfectly captures a Middle Eastern rug merchant in the act of selling his merchandise. Nearby, the merchant’s hookah pipe rests against the folds of the rug. Rug and arms merchants were a recurring subject in Ernst's oeuvre and in the work of other Orientalists painters of the time, including Leopold Mielich and Ludwig Deutsch.
The present work is among the artist’s early Orientalist works, inspired by his recent travels to Egypt. Almost all his paintings were executed in his studio in Paris, which he decorated in an Eastern style and filled with the sketches and props he accumulated on his travels.
The canvas has been lined. The picture presents well and is overall in good condition.
There is a fine pattern of drying craquelure throughout and some minor frame rubbing along the extreme lower edge. Ultra-violet light reveals an area of retouching in the dark pigments of the figure's abdominal and a circa 10cm horizontal stroke in the lower right corner, both possibly addressing old repairs. Some strengthening is also visible in the hanging carpet closer to the right edge. The signature appears to fluoresce under UV.
This picture is ready to hang.
Presented in a decorative gilt frame with a beige inner slip. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."