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Details & Cataloguing

Najd Collection, Part II


Ludwig Deutsch
signed and dated L. Deutsch 1900 lower left
oil on panel
59 by 42cm., 23¼ by 16½in.


M. Newman Ltd., London
Private collection, London
Mathaf Gallery, London
Purchased from the above


Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, p. 65, catalogued & illustrated
Martina Haja & Günther Wimmer, Les Orientalistes des écoles allemandes et autrichiennes, Courbevoie, 2000, p. 204, catalogued & illustrated
Kristian Davies, The Orientalists. Western Artists in Arabia, the Sahara, Persia & India, New York, 2005, p. 238, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Powerful in overall impact, yet painstaking in detail, this work depicts a proud and richly decorated Nubian or Sudanese sentinel. He stands alert, wearing glistening gold-embroidered slippers and bearing a cluster of weapons, including an Ottoman yataghan, a jade-hilted kindjal dagger, and a flintlock pistol strapped to his waist. His Persian steel helmet and shield are perched on the floor beside him.

The entrance he guards incorporates many of the architectural elements from the Mosque of Sultan Hassan in Cairo. These are intricately observed, from the carved medallion on the left found in other works by the artist, to the muqarna — or honeycomb stalactite-like arching - in the niche above the sentinel.

Indeed, the painting bears witness to Deutsch's rigorous and highly accomplished technique. Although little is known of the artist's working methods, only a magnifying glass would have allowed the rendering of such carefully observed detail. The chain mail in the helmet, the weapons, the staff, and the weave of the Uzbeki suzani rug hung as a curtain collectively reveal the impeccable detail that often characterises Deutsch's oeuvre.  

However, it is also Deutsch’s skillful arrangement of colours and shapes, as well as his confident handling of bold colour contrasts, that give such authority to this statuesque single-figure composition. Here, he creates a fresh impact with his sonorous colour notes, especially through the juxtaposition of the complimentary colours green and red, in the form of the sentinel's head scarf and the suzani drape.

Najd Collection, Part II