signed and dated Franz Kosler 1898 lower right
oil on canvas
89 by 131cm., 32½ by 51½in.
Mathaf Gallery, London (by 1980)
Purchased from the above
London, Mathaf Gallery, A Retrospective of Middle Eastern Painting, 1980, illustrated in the catalogue
London, Mathaf Gallery, Summer Exhibition, Important Orientalist Paintings of the 19th Century, 1983, illustrated in the catalogue
Lynne Thornton, Les Orientalistes: peintres voyageurs, 1828-1908, Paris, 1983, p. 242-43, catalogued & illustrated
Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, pp. 182-83, catalogued & illustrated
Martina Haja & Günther Wimmer, Les Orientalistes des écoles allemandes et autrichiennes, Courbevoie, 2000, p. 281, catalogued & illustrated
Lynn Thornton, Les Orientalistes, peintres voyageurs, 1828-1908, Paris, 2001, p. 269, catalogued & illustrated
Set near one of Cairo's two Mamluk cemeteries on the outskirts of the old town, where travellers and other communities lived close to the tombs in a semi-permanent town of shacks and tents, this lively tableau of street performers and their audience provided Kosler with an opportunity to capture all manner of ethnic and racial types, including Nubians, Abyssians, and Egyptians. The panoply of observers enthusiastically beholds the spectacle before them.
Kosler was taught at the Vienna Academy by Leopold Carl Müller, the most celebrated Austrian Orientalist painter of his generation. Inspired by Müller, Kosler first set foot in Egypt in 1892. Sponsored by Archduke Ferdinand Karl, he returned to Egypt two years later and held his first one-man show there. Among his Egyptian patrons was Said Halim Pasha, grandson of Mohammed Ali and future Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.