Lot 41
  • 41

Frederick Arthur Bridgman

500,000 - 700,000 USD
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  • Frederick Arthur Bridgman
  • The Procession of the Bull Apis
  • signed F.A. Bridgman and dated 1879 (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 39 7/8 by 70 1/4 in.
  • 101.3 by 178.4 cm


Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (acquired directly from the artist in 1880 and sold, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, June 7, 1951, lot 287)
Renaissance Galleries, New York 
Daniel B. Grossman Collection, New York
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, May 24, 1988, lot 41, illustrated
Private Collector, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Private Collection (acquired circa 2000 and sold, Sotheby's, New York, November 8, 2013, lot 66, illustrated)
Acquired at the above sale


Paris, Salon des Artistes Français, 1879, no. 416
New York, Mr. Avery's Gallery; Boston, Williams and Everett, Exhibition of Bridgman's Three Archeological Paintings, 1880


Edward Strahan, ed., The Art Treasures of America, Philadelphia, [1879-1882], facsimile edition, 1977, vol. I, illustrated following p. 10
"Frederick Arthur Bridgman," The Art Amateur: a Monthly Journal Devoted to the Art of the Household, March 1899, vol. 40, p. 77, no. 4
Ilene Susan Fort, Frederick Arthur Bridgman and the American fascination with the exotic Near East, Ph.D. diss., City University of New York, 1990, pp. 153-4, 156, 158, 165, 170, 175, 461, illustrated fig. 67
Gerald M. Ackerman, American Orientalists, Paris, 1994, p. 48, illustrated opposite
Herman de Meulenaere, Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Painting, Belgium, 1992, p. 109, illustrated p. 110-11 and as a detail on cover


The following condition report was kindly provided by Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc.: This work is in very good condition. The canvas has a good light lining. There are no structural damages or signs of abrasion. There are retouches in the torsos and faces of the two porters at the rear of the sedan chair. There are retouches in the stomach and right thigh of the female harpist, and slight retouching in her face. The arm of the figure behind the bull has some retouching. There are retouches in the two leading figures on the right side, and in the head of the bald man leading the bull. All of these retouches address natural cracking that has developed in the paint layer, and are not indications of damage. It seems that a pentiment has also been slightly addressed above the sedan.
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.

Catalogue Note

The first of Frederick Arthur Bridgman’s paintings to enter a public collection in America, and the last major historical genre painting he would create for nearly a decade, The Procession of the Bull Apis is regarded as one of the artist’s most important early works. Bridgman’s archaeological precision and exotic subject matter, inspired by numerous trips to Egypt and North Africa, and a profound devotion to scholarly research immediately compelled comparisons to the Orientalist paintings of Jean-Léon Gérôme (see lot 3, 49), Bridgman’s teacher and mentor in Paris in the 1860s. This favorable reception encouraged Bridgman to expand the range of his artistic ventures, and focus almost exclusively on the visual and written documentation of modern daily life in the East. In later years, however, the artist would return to the theme of Apis, creating several historical reconstructions and processional scenes directly influenced by this pioneering work.The cavernous setting for this hallowed promenade is likely based on Bridgman’s sketches of Ptolemaic temples in Egypt, such as those at Dendera and Philae, and in particular, the temple of Horus at Edfou, one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman temples from this period (The cult of the Apis bull, with all its flowered festivals and ritualistic sacrifices, was in fact centered at Memphis, several hundred miles from this Upper Egyptian scene.) On the columns, Ptolemaic cartouches and hieroglyphs are visible; though most are indecipherable, others in the composition, such as those adorning the garments of the high priest, clearly bear the name of one of the bull’s aspects, the god Osiris. The religious furniture that Bridgman includes recalls various objects in American and European museums and collections: the naos, atop a solar bark and draped with a cloth bearing figures of the goddess Ma’at, resembles descriptions provided to the artist by Samuel Birch, Keeper of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum. Bridgman’s diligent study of contemporary scholarly publications, including John Gardner Wilkinson’s Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians (1837), may also have supplied him with information for this work, particularly with regard to the canopic chest at left. The presence of this and other distinctly funerary pieces, accurately rendered but incongruous in the scene, are a reminder of the composite nature of even the most persuasive of Bridgman’s Orientalist works.

This catalogue note was written by Emily M. Weeks, Ph.D.

We would like to thank Dr. Ilene Susan Fort, Curator Emerita/Consultant, American Art, LACMA for kindly confirming the authenticity of this lot.