LUDWIG DEUTSCH | THE SCRIBE
The panel is flat, even, and ensuring a stable support.
The paint surface is stable and clean.
There is some minor rubbing along the extreme right framing edge.
Inspection under ultra-violet light reveals no visible sign of restoration.
This work is in very good condition and is ready to hang.
Presented in a decorative gilt frame with a nameplate.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Mathaf Gallery, London
Purchased from the above
Caroline Juler, Najd Collection of Orientalist Paintings, London, 1991, p. 45, cited, p. 55, catalogued & illustrated
Martina Haja & Günther Wimmer, Les Orientalistes des écoles allemandes et autrichiennes, Courbevoie, 2000, p. 206, catalogued & illustrated
This painting depicts a scribe or katib in Cairo, seen meditating on a marble ledge outside what appears to be the entrance to a mosque or palace. Deutsch captures a moment in time with crystal clear verisimilitude: the scribe's concentrated mien, the striped silk gown and yellow tasseled shawl he wears, the silk cushion cover beside him, his Syrian bone-and-ivory-inlaid desk, ink well and stylus, and silvered nargileh. All are framed by two striking, vertical and geometric Mamluk pietra dura bands in the wall behind.
One of the traditional professions in the Middle East, public scribes earned a living by both reading and writing. They were respected, educated individuals in a culture that placed a high value on literacy and the subtleties of elegant calligraphy. In painting The Scribe, Deutsch may well have been thinking of the many depictions of scribes in Ancient Egyptian art as well as of their role in contemporary society. One example, dating from circa 2600-2350 BC and known as the scribe accroupi, was discovered in Saqqara in 1850 and entered the collection of the Louvre.
By exploring the theme of literacy in Egyptian culture, Deutsch is simultaneously celebrating its glorious history and underlining its importance in both secular and religious life, at a time when modern innovations in the printing process were threatening the traditional role of professional scribes. As a painter in an age of mechanical reproduction, Deutsch may have felt sympathy for their situation as skilled professionals facing potential obsolescence.