The high desert, morning: as the sun rises in the east, a group of men face towards Meccca to pray. The scale of Veillon's canvas accentuates the vastness of the desert landscape and the dramatic sunrise. Scenes of prayer occupy a central position in nineteenth-century Orientalist art. Morning Prayers
is not only a splendid evocation of the north African desert, but affords a fascinating glimpse into the ritual stages of Muslim worship. The central standing figure performs the initial invocation to God, or qiyam
. The figure immediately to his right kneels in a brief moment of reflection before the sajda
or prostration - already being performed by the two farthest figures - during which the forehead is reverently placed to the ground.