Unlike many of Majorelle’s colourful kasbah paintings, the present work is composed of a muted chiaroscuro palette of greys and browns juxtaposed with sandy whites, a dramatic evocation of the arid terrain and near-blinding effect of the relentless Saharan sun. The gold and silver highlights, which dominate the work, further add to this scintillating effect. Combined with the sharp verticality of the kasbah and stepped chiaroscuro, this creates a strong graphic dimension. The two figures at the bottom of the work give the view scale and underscore the vastness of the Atlas.
Majorelle first discovered and painted the Atlas’s kasbahs in 1921. Nestled in the steep-sided valleys of the otherwise remote landscape, these terraced mountain villages had remained closed to westerners. Their simple geometric arrangement appealed to Majorelle's penchant for precise and rigorous drawing and eye for design acquired as a boy in his father's furniture-making workshop and whilst studying architecture as part of his artistic training in Nancy.
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