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Albert-Gabriel Rigolot (French, 1862-1932)
Albert-Gabriel Rigolot (French, 1862-1932)

Villagers in the Desert

Details
Albert-Gabriel Rigolot (French, 1862-1932)
Villagers in the Desert
signed 'A Rigolot' (lower left)
oil on canvas
52 x 77 in. (132 x 195.6 cm.)

Lot Essay

Albert-Gabriel Rigolot, was born on November 28, 1862 in Paris and died April 25, 1932. The father of Yves Rouvre he studied under Pelouse and d'Allonge. He made frequent appearances at the Salon from 1886, where he eventually became a member in 1888. His public achievements include an honorable mention in 1889, a Medaille de Troisieme Classe in 1891, a Medaille Deuxieme Classe in 1892, and on a Medaille d'Argent in 1900. In addition, he was named a member of the Society of French Orientalists and also made Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1901. Many of his works are housed in museums in Nancy, Paris, and Saint-Quentin.

Rigolot is best known for his landscape and alfresco pictures through which he communicates a sensitive and true portrayl. His naturalistic style and treatment of light is reminiscent of the Barbizon School best illustrated in his marvelous portrayals of sunlit ponds and rivers. Yet, much of his time was spent abroad and in particular in North Africa.

It is possible that the painting depicts a sort of fête in Bou-Saada, a town and oasis in northeastern Algeria nestled among the Saharan Atlas Mountains. The unique huts with the triangular roofs featured in the present work often figured in the paintings of Orientalist Etienne Dinet, who was enamoured of Bou-Saada. Bou-Saada was an important trading post for nomads and the town still remains an important market place producing and selling jewelry, metalwork, carpet and bousaadi knives. Although it is not clear exactly what festival is taking place, there is obvious cause to celebrate and the composition leads us through the narrative of the painting starting from left to right, as our eye is lead first to the group of children who surround a storyteller or mystic and then to the horse races that take place in the distance.

While on location in such sun-drenched countries as Algeria, Rigolot shifted his palette to a much more aggressive use of color permeated by yellow and white tones to convey the reflection of the hot sun on the rocks and sand. Well known for painting and sketching en plein air, Rigolot seems to have been positioned in a slightly elevated vantage point as he observed the festivities below in the desert of Algeria. It is not clear whether this canvas was worked up from sketches and finished in his studio on the Rue Singer in Paris or painted on site. Nevertheless, the loose and spontaneous brushwork and the emphasis on the effect of light, lends a truthfulness to the scene and an overall "non-staged appearance" to the painting.

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