signed and dated L. Deutsch PARIS 1907 lower left
oil on panel
58 by 42.5cm., 22¾ by 16½in.
We are grateful to Dr Emily M. Weeks for her assistance in cataloguing this work which will be included in her critical catalogue of the artist's Egyptian and Orientalist works, currently in progress.
Schiller & Bodo, New York
Mathaf Gallery, London (purchased from the above)
Purchased from the above
Lynne Thornton, Les Orientalistes: peintres voyageurs 1828-1908, Paris, 1983, p. 214, catalogued & illustrated
Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, p. 50, discussed, p. 58, catalogued & illustrated
Lynne Thornton, Les Orientalistes, peintres voyageurs 1828-1908, Paris, 2001, p. 240-41, catalogued & illustrated
Powerful in its overall impact, yet painstaking in its detail, this work depicts a proud and richly decorated Nubian or Sudanese sentinel. He stands alert, wears glistening gold embroidered slippers, brandishes a long Ottoman alam or staff, and has a cluster of weapons, including an Ottoman yataghan, a jade-hilted kindjal dagger, and an Ottoman 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, which also served as the backdrop to The Tribute (lot 15).
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 skilful arrangement of colours and shapes, as well as his confident handling of bold colour contrasts, that gives such authority to this statuesque single-figure composition. Here, he creates a fresh impact with his sonorous colour notes, especially the vivid slash of red and black in the curtain that sets into relief the guard’s rich cream robe.