Rudolf Ernst (Austrian, 1854-1932)
PROPERTY FROM A CALIFORNIA COLLECTION
Rudolf Ernst (Austrian, 1854-1932)

Guarding the Mosque

Details
Rudolf Ernst (Austrian, 1854-1932)
Guarding the Mosque
signed 'R. Ernst' (lower right)
oil on panel
21¾ x 17¾ in. (55.2 x 45.1 cm.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 23 May 1990, lot 54.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

Lot Essay

Ottomania and expeditions to the Middle East became a vogue in Germany and Austria nearly a century later than in England and France. This delay was solely based on these nations' political relations with the Empire. England and France were granted selective trade rights and free passage through Ottoman waters during the early 18th Century. For other nations, substantial reforms were introduced with Sultan Abdülmecit, who passed the Tazminat Fermani in 1839 followed by the Islahat Fermani in 1856, the former guaranteeing the safety of the lives and the properties of both Muslim and non-Muslim subjects and the latter allowing foreigners to buy estates in the Ottoman territories. In 1867, Sultan Abdülazziz was invited to Paris by Napoleon III - the first Ottoman Sultan to visit a European capital - establishing even closer ties with the French. Sultan Abdülhamit II, enthroned in 1876, imported German technology with the hope of upgrading his military. All of these changes, combined with the financially weakened state of the Empire within a relatively short time period, opened up what had been previously regarded as barbaric lands to foreign travel. These changes proved so inviting that even Vienna, a city four times attacked by the Ottoman army, adopted Ottomania as a new fad.

In Guarding the Mosque, Ernst decorates the entrance to a stately mosque with a number of objects most likely from his own personal collection, as these were repeatedly included in some of his other compositions. Similar to Lewis and Gérôme, Ernst gathered a sizeable collection of artifacts from his travels to the Middle East such as tiles, lamps, pottery, silks, satins and kaftans. The large terracotta painted flower vase, for example, was also depicted in In the Harem (Christie's London, 18 June 1998, lot 83) and in the Koran Scholar (Grogan & Company, 7 April 1995, lot 136) and the tunic of the guardsman was at least once more depicted in Le jongleur (Tajan, 22 November 2004, lot 231).

Also see notes to lots 8, 11 and 14.
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