signed R. Ernst lower right
oil on panel
61 by 49cm., 24 by 19in.
Sale: Christie’s, New York, 28 May 1982, lot 67
Mathaf Gallery, London (by 1983)
Purchased from the above
London, Mathaf Gallery, New Year Collection, 1983, no. 15, illustrated in the catalogue
Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, p. 80, catalogued & illustrated
Glimpsed off guard, a sentinel or attendant in a mauve silk robe enjoys a moment of respite from his duties and takes a puff from his Persian enamelled silver hookah, framed by a tiled arch leading to a garden beyond. In contrast to most of Ernst's compositions, the figure here is seen close-up against the picture plane; as a result, the model occupies most of the painting. This representational style allowed Ernst to showcase his painterly talent at rendering expression, anatomy, and detail, down to the worked silver of the hookah base and the glossy silks. Ernst, having himself mastered making and firing glazed ceramic ware, magnifies the star-patterned tiles and betrays his deep understanding of their properties.