Frère first discovered the Orient on a trip to Algeria in 1837, but it was his three-year long trip further East that made a lasting impression on the young artist. Frère set out from Malta and continued on to Constantinople, where he spent 18 months, followed by Syria, Palestine, Nubia and finally Egypt, where he set up his studio. At the end of this journey he returned to France with copious amounts of material and sketches for future paintings.
The location of the present work can be identified with certainty as a small village along the Nile outside Cairo, and the present composition is based on what Frère actually saw and sketched. Frère painted many village scenes from or near the Nile, for example Vue de Beni Suef, Egypte, as well as another painting identified as A View of Boulak, near Cairo, which has a similar enclosed courtyard mosque as in the present work.
The gilt Orientalist frame for the present lot bears the inscription 'No victor but God' in Arabic script along its borders.
(fig. 1) The present lot in its frame