Lot 6
  • 6

Eugène Girardet

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Eugène Girardet
  • A Desert Caravan
  • signed Eugène Girardet lower left
  • oil on canvas
  • 68.5 by 109cm., 27 by 43in.


Private collection, Switzerland 


Possibly, Salon, Paris, 1894, no. 503 (as Caravane)
Berlin, Königliche Akademie der Künste, Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung zur Feier des 200-jährigen Bestehens der königlichen Akademie der Künste, 1896, no. 805 (label on verso)

Catalogue Note

Girardet's luminous, cinematic view of the nomadic life depicts a Berber tribe crossing the desert, following the course of a wadi or dried riverbed towards its next camp and watering place. The painting is as much a celebration of the stoicism and dignity of the self-sufficient tribesmen and women, shepherding their herd as they travel, as it is of the Saharan light: the juxtaposition of the deep shade in the foreground and the bright sunrise farther back, illuminating the dust thrown up by the moving caravan, accentuates the intensity of the desert sun.

Girardet hailed from an artistic Swiss Huguenot family, and even before his teacher Jean-Léon Gérôme encouraged him to visit North Africa he had long been inspired to travel by his uncles Karl and Edouard, who had journeyed to and painted Egypt, and from his father Paul, who had engraved episodes of the colonial war in Algeria after Horace Vernet. In 1874, Girardet embarked for Morocco, then travelled to Tunisia and Algeria, for which he developed a particular fondness. 

In Algeria, Girardet spent most time in El Kantara and Bou-Saâda, in the foothills of the Saharan Atlas, painting simple everyday scenes like the present one: herds of goats in the dust, prayers in the desert, laundresses in the wadi, people going about their business among the red stone walls of the villages. In Bou-Saâda Girardet met fellower Orientalist painter Etienne Dinet with whom, back in Paris in 1877, Girardet and thirteen other artists formed the Société des peintres orientalistes français.

A comparable work, Caravane dans les dunes de Bou-Saada, painted in 1895, is in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes.