Alberto Pasini is perhaps the most celebrated of the Italian Orientalists. At the beginning of the 1850s, the artist left Italy for Paris where he met Théodore Chasseriau and through him, the diplomat Prosper Bourée who was about to leave on an official mission to Persia. Pasini was invited to join the company as Bourée's personal painter and in March 1855, the artist began his long trip to the Orient. In the course of this adventure, the artist visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Yemen and the Persian Gulf region. He was commissioned by the Shah of Persia to execute numerous paintings.
Pasini's supreme command of the techniques of drawing was learned in his youth, when he studied lithography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Parma. While a student, the young Pasini illustrated an album on the architecture and history of the region. It is this fine observation of architecture that creates a backdrop for so many of his paintings, including the present lot. On a very small, almost miniature scale, the artist is able to capture the effects of light on the stonework of the buildings, the various textures of the awnings and the costumes of the figures, as well as the musculature of the horses who wait patiently outside the marketplace.