The Italian Orientalists specializing in watercolor all worked in close proximity in the studios on the Via Margutta in Rome. Of the group, which included Giuseppe Aureli, Ettore Simonetti and Enrico Tarenghi, Giulio Rosati was the most accomplished, despite the fact that he never visited the countries he depicted. Instead, the Italian watercolorists created characters and customs based on photographs, creating large-scale works on paper. The highly-finished style they achieved is more traditionally associated with the hyper-realist oil paintings of artists such as Ludwig Deutsch and Jean-Léon Gérôme.
In his enormous corpus of work Rosati concentrated on the artefacts and customs of the Middle East which made the region so intriguing to a Western audience. The artist's love of brilliant colors and his meticulous attention to detail, particularly evident here in his rendering of carpets and fabrics, elevate his work far above the photographs he used as inspiration. As with many of his French and Italian contemporaries Rosati collected a great number of Middle-Eastern objects which, woven into his compositions, add a further dimension to his work.
For a discussion of the game of tavli, please see lot 10.