ARTHUR VON FERRARIS
ARRIVING AT THE MOSQUE
signed Arthur Ferraris. lower left
oil on canvas
56 by 70cm., 22 by 27½in.
Sale: Clark Gammon Auctioneers, Guildford
Mathaf Gallery, London (purchased from the above)
Purchased from the above
Lynne Thornton, Les Orientalistes: peintres voyageurs, 1828-1908, Paris, 1983, p. 241, catalogued & illustrated
Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, pp. 108-09, catalogued & illustrated
Martina Haja & Günter Wimmer, Les Orientalistes des écoles allemandes et autrichiennes, Courbevoie, 2000, p. 256, catalogued & illustrated
Lynne Thornton, Les Orientalistes, peintres voyageurs 1828-1908, Paris, 2001, p. 267, catalogued & illustrated
Depicting the entrance to the El Azhar Mosque by the Bab Al-Muzayinnin, the Barbers' Gate, in Old Cairo, the painting captures the moment a distinguished elder followed by his cortège is set to enter the building. The mosque was at the heart of the collegiate complex of mosques that made up the University of Cairo, so it is quite likely that the dignitary is a learned man. In the background, a bustling street gleams in the bright sunlight. The cross section of types, ages and genders in varied dress not only displays Ferraris' skill in minutely rendering their exact features, but also visually documents the vibrancy of life on Cairo’s streets at the turn of the century.
Ferraris's fastidious attention to detail reflects the influence of his teacher, Jean-Léon Gérôme, who encouraged him to travel to Cairo in the winter of 1885 in the company of Ludwig Deutsch. He exhibited his first Orientalist painting at the Paris Salon of 1890; its title, Visit of the Grand Sheikh to Cairo University, matches the subject of the present work. Ferraris shared a fascination with Islamic architecture with fellow Austrian painters Deutsch and Ernst. The three artists’ works share remarkable similarities in their treatment of architecture, which has prompted conjecture that they visited sites together and worked collaboratively.