Frederick Arthur Bridgman was born in Alabama but came from a family with Northern roots which prompted the family back to Boston. The young Bridgman enrolled in art school in Brooklyn and showed formidible talent at the yearly exhibitions. He felt the call of Europe early on and in 1866 he set off for France.
This large-scale market scene is a wonderful late work by F.A. Bridgman and stands out by far as his most dynamic multi-figural composition to appear on the market. Dated 1923, the painting was created during the final decade of his life when he had finally settled in Normandy after a long and fruitful career. Bridgman's extensive travels throughout North Africa inspired countless works many based on exhaustive sketches that formed the basis for more finished studio works.
The various scenes that play out in this lively gathering were no doubt based on the artist's collective memory of his experiences in North Africa, most probably Morocco. Throughout his career, Bridgman's primary concern was to depict the contemporary life of the natives and delve into their customs. He befriended many North Africans during the years he visited their countries, and there is no doubt that Bridgman would have found himself amidst many market scenes as portrayed in this painting. When it came to documenting people, when possible, he preferred to convince the natives to pose for him, but also relied on contemporary photography which enriched his already immense visual archive.
There is no one focal point to the present painting because Bridgman has chosen to describe not one but multiple scenes that are played out simultaneously. The general market features a pottery seller seen to the right, in the foreground, a rug seller sits around his goods. The tented area in the middle is reserved for food and drink; nearby a group of men enjoy mint tea. Two veiled woman step into the seated crowd possibly selling fruit or fabrics.
The present lot has been authenticated by Dr. Ilene Susan Fort, the Gail and John Liebes Curator of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art.