1853 - 1907
A BEDOUIN ENCAMPMENT
signed Eugene Girardet lower right
oil on canvas
67 by 88cm., 26 by 34.5in.
Mathaf Gallery, London
Purchased from the above
Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, pp 154-55, catalogued & illustrated
Lynne Thornton, Les Orientalistes, Peintres Voyageurs, vol. 1, Paris, 2001, p. 208, catalogued & illustrated
Eugène Girardet shared Eugène Fromentin's and Gustave Guillaumet's love for Algeria, which he very much celebrated in his luminous canvases where the Saharian landscape serves as a backdrop to pastoral scenes of Arab nomadic life.
Girardet hailed from an artistic Swiss Huguenot family, and even before his teacher Jean-Léon Gérôme encouraged him to visit North Africa he had long been inspired to visit North Africa, his uncles Karl and Edouard, who journeyed to and painted Egypt as well as his father Paul, who engraved episodes of the colonial war in Algeria, inspired him to travel to the region. In 1874, Girardet embarked for Morocco, then travelled to Tunisia and Algeria, for which he developed a particular fondness.
In Algeria, Girardet spent most time in El Kantara and Bou-Saâda, in the foothills of the Saharan Atlas, painting simple everyday scenes like the present one: herds of goats in the dust, prayers in the desert, laundresses in the wadi, and people going about their business among the red stone walls of the villages. In Bou-Saâda Girardet met fellow Orientalist painter Etienne Dinet with whom, back in Paris in 1877, Girardet and thirteen other artists formed the Société des peintres orientalistes français.