Lot 32
  • 32

Cesare Dell'Acqua

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
405,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Cesare Dell'Acqua
  • An Ottoman Beauty
  • signed Cesare Dell'Acqua lower left; titled Orientale brulant des parfums, inscribed and signed on the reverse
  • oil on panel


Bruxelles, Exposition Générale des Beaux-Arts, 1869, no. 367


Franco Firmiani & Flavio Tossi, Il Pittore Cesare Dell’Acqua 1821-1905 fra Trieste e Bruxelles, Trieste, 1992, p. 206, no. 298 (as Orientale che brucia profumi and incorrectly catalogued as oil on canvas)

Catalogue Note

Cesare dell'Acqua was born in Pirano, near Trieste, in 1821. Having trained as an artist at the Venice Academy between 1842 – 1847, he moved to Brussels where his brother Eugène lived, and worked under the painter Louis Gallait. Dell'Acqua became most famous for his historic genre pictures, some of which were acquired by the Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts, Bruxelles. He also exhibited at the World's Fair in Vienna (1873) and the International Exhibition in London (1874). 

The present work exemplifies nineteenth-century French taste for Orientalism and turqueries. Dressed in a red velvet jacket with stunning gilded embroidery, this woman might have well been inspired by one of the numerous publications of time on Ottoman costumes, including Auguste Wahlen’s book Mœurs, usages et costumes de tous les peuples du monde, d'après des documents and authentiques et les voyages des plus récents (1843-44) which included coloured prints after watercolours by Duverger amongst other artists.

While the sitter's dress and the gueridon table are quintessentially Turkish, in her left hand she appears to be holding a Jiajing or Wanli wucai decorated jarlet and cover, of the style produced in the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. While covered jars of this type were originally produced as tea caddies, here it has been used to contain incense. The Chinese origins of the pot are a subtle reminder of the Silk Road which connected China with the Mediterranean through trade.