THE ANTIQUES SELLER
signed, inscribed and dated Paris '87 R. Weisse lower right
oil on panel
60.5 by 47cm., 23½ by 19½in.
Sale: Sotheby's, New York, 29 October 1981, lot 159
Mathaf Gallery, London
Purchased from the above
Paris, Salon, 1887, no. 2468 (as Marchand de curiosités d'Orient)
Lynne Thornton, Les Orientalistes: peintres voyageurs, 1828-1908, Paris, 1983, p. 232, catalogued & illustrated
Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, p. 226, catalogued & illustrated
Lynne Thornton, The Orientalists Painter-Travellers, Courbevoie, 1994, p. 180, catalogued & illustrated
Lynne Thornton, Les Orientalistes, peintres voyageurs, 1828-1908, Paris, 2001, p. 258, catalogued & illustrated
In this animated scene, a Nubian dealer bargains with his clientele. The subject of the discussion is a sheathed dagger, for which the standing man appears to have made an offer, but the seller is holding out for more. Also laid out are, among other items, an Ottoman tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl casket, an Ottoman gilt-copper tombak coffee pot, a lute, an Ottoman ivory inlaid rifle, and various rugs, including a Moroccan Berber hanging above the vendor. The customer, adorned in gold dress, appears to be standing on a Tuareg reed mat. In addition to serving as decorations, the ostrich egg pendants of the type hanging next to the brass lamp were reputed to have insect-repelling properties.
Weisse was born in Aussig (modern-day Usti) on the banks of the river Elbe. He studied at the Vienna Academy but, like his compatriots and fellow artists Ludwig Deutsch and Rudolf Ernst, settled in Paris, where he made his reputation as an Orientalist painter and became a regular exhibitor at the Salon from 1889, the year in which he exhibited at the Exposition Universelle until 1927. Weisse travelled to Egypt and beyond, produced copious amounts of sketches and collected artefacts and objects that he used in his paintings to evoke the rich and colourful mercantile street life of Cairo.