Ferdinand Max Bredt is regarded as one of Germany's foremost Orientalist painters of the 19th century. Like many of his compatriots who were interested in the world of the Orient, he travelled extensively in Greece, Turkey and Tunisia, recording his journeys on both paper and canvas.
His works often depict the everyday life in the harem and its inhabitants -- luxuriant scenes graced by richly attired odalisques. Alternatively, he depicted women chaperoned in an outdoor setting against a backdrop of exotic architecture. As in the present work, the definining characteristic of the artist is a profound sense of languor and softness, achieved through a wonderful sense of contour and gentle colours.
Like many of his peers, the artist made use of authentic artefacts to lend an aura of reality to these otherwise fantastical scenes. As a precise draftsman, Bredt had a keen eye for detail which enabled him to capture the intricacies of the local architecture with beauty and grace, before placing his naturalistically styled figures in the foreground.
The present painting portrays an oriental noblewoman in Tunis enjoying a lazy afternoon in the courtyard. She is lost in thought, dreaming whilst holding a fragrant branch with flowers. The light is limpid and bright and the costumes of the women clearly echo the virginal white of the buildings. Bredt displays his exceptional skill at calibrating tonal contrasts to generate atmospheric effects that are absolutely true to time and place. The heat of this luminous day in the courtyard is almost palpable, accentuated by the strong interplay of light and the serene and languid nature of these figures, sheltering in welcome shade.