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    Sale 7587

    19th Century European Art including Orientalist and Spanish Art

    2 July 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 1

    Giulio Rosati (Italian, 1858-1917)

    The backgammon players

    Price Realised  


    Giulio Rosati (Italian, 1858-1917)
    The backgammon players
    signed 'Giulio Rosati' (upper left)
    pencil and watercolour on paper
    21 x 14 1/16 in. (53.5 x 35.7 cm)

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    Giulio Rosati was the most accomplished of a group of Italian Orientalist artists who specialised in watercolour. These included Giuseppe Aureli, Ettore Simonetti and Enrico Tarenghi, all of whom worked in close proximity in the artist studios on the Via Margutta in Rome. Many of these artists, including Rosati, never in fact visited the countries whose characters and customs they depicted, working instead from photographs to create large-scale and highly finished works on paper, more traditionally associated with the hyper-realist oil paintings of artists such as Ludwig Deutsch and Jean-Léon Gérôme.

    Rosati produced an enormous corpus of work, concentrating on the artefacts and customs which made the Middle East so fascinating to a western audience. Rosati's brilliant colours, and his attention to detail, in many ways made his images more realistic than the photographs on which they were based - a quality which is particularly evident in his extraordinary rendition of fabric and carpets. Like many of his contemporaries both in Italy and France, in addition to photographs, Rosati assembled a huge collection of Middle-Eastern objects which he wove into different compositions to striking effect.
    The game of backgammon was one of Rosati's favourite subjects. The game, which has modern origins in Persia, and a version of which can be traced all the way back to Ancient Egypt, is still enormously popular throughout the Middle East. In the present work, however, the nominal subject is of less importance than the attention paid to the tiled and carpeted background against which the players are set, and to the folds of the flowing white drape of the figure on the right.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Mrs McLrea, Ohio.

    Pre-Lot Text

    A private collection of Orientalist paintings such as the one presented here usually reflects the interest of the owner in certain themes. It is often these, as well as the renown of the artists, which attract buyers, both individuals and public institutions. Orientalism is a dialogue between cultures, even more so today than in the past, since countries in North Africa and the Near and Middle East are now very active in the art market. It is, too, a precious pictorial memory, since the pictures relate scenes and traditions still extant or which have disappeared for ever.
    In this collection, there are artists renowned for their pictures of magnificent pure-blood horses: Henri Rousseau, Adolf Schreyer, Georges Washington, Eugène Fromentin, Giulio Rosati. Sometimes the riders are armed, as there were often clashes between tribes for territorial reasons, or as a defence against possible attacks on travellers. Victor Huguet, on the other hand, shows horsemen accompanying an Algerian family on the move, whose members are on foot or transported in an attatich, a tent mounted on the backs of dromedaries, which housed mothers, children, and also rugs and cooking utensils.
    In many of the works, one can appreciate the careful attention the artists paid to rugs, carpets, embroidery, elaborate clothes, carved wood or marble, ceramic tiles, and other traditional and highly appreciated crafts of the Oriental countries. These serve as backgrounds for scenes of everyday life such as men playing backgammon, dancers and musicians, and the lovely intimate painting by Rudolf Ernst of a woman giving a manicure to her companion. As for Jean-Baptiste Huysmans, he was an excellent and unusual colourist and a wide traveller, who has introduced a note of humour in his picture: a servant is hesitant about entering the room where there has been a marital discord.
    Gustav Bauernfeind's painting of the Umayyad mosque, also known as the Great Mosque, is of exceptional interest. The artist was amongst the first to paint in the city of Damascus, one of the three most sacred sites in Islam and a gathering place for thousands of Muslims leaving for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Not only that, this ancient and vast edifice, once considered to be one of the marvels of the world, was also open to Oriental Christians who wished to pray at the crypt of St. John the Baptist. It was, and still is, a symbol of acceptance and tolerance between people of different origins and beliefs.

    Lynne Thornton, Expert and art historian, has specialised in Orientalist paintings for many years. She has written a number of books and press articles, as well as contributions to international exhibition catalogues, on this subject.