After following a conventional course of study at the École des Beaux-Arts, Ludwig Deutsch spent the beginning of his career painting traditional portraits and genre scenes that he exhibited at the Paris Salons. In 1883, perhaps influenced by his friend Rudolf Ernst, Deutsch changed focus, dedicating his work to Orientalist subjects for which he is best remembered today. The lessons that Deutsch learned at the École, however, continued to inform his work as his Orientalist paintings are characterized by careful modeling, a polished finish and attention to detail.
The inspiration for Deutsch's work came from his various trips to Egypt from the mid 1880s up until 1904. While on these excursions, Deutsch executed in situ studies of the country's people, architecture and bazaars. Once returned home to France, he would supplement these first-hand accounts with photographs taken of the Near East in an effort to obtain the greatest accuracy in his images. Deutsch's personal collection of Islamic tiles, metalwork and textiles, kept in his studio, also served as the basis for the opulent objects found in his work.
In Learned Advice, Deutsch's exceptional artistic talent is on full display. From the intricate marble floor and dizzyingly detailed carpet to the sumptuous silk pillows, the painting reveals the artist's delight in translating textures on to canvas. Deutsch's use of a striking variety of colors accentuates each of the objects in the room and helps lead the eye through the picture plane. The deeper hues of the crimson and cobalt carpet give way to a brighter palette of ochre and cream cushions. The vivid stripe of turquoise on the seated man's robe matches the underside of the left-most pillow, which leads us past the swirling purple marble column and towards the standing man's strident red and green turban. Beyond this central figure, the peach shadow cast on the floor guides us toward the open-latticed window in the background.
With his compelling images, laden with exquisite details, Deutsch became, along with his contemporary Jean-Léon Gérôme, one of France's most successful Orientalist painters.