The Head of an Algerian Youth

Etienne DINET (Paris, 1861 - Paris, 1929)

Biography

Alphonse-Étienne Dinet was a pupil of Victor Galland at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, as well as William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Robert-Fleury at the Académie Julian. He exhibited at the Salons between 1882 and 1889, and at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts between 1890 and 1921. In 1884 Dinet won a travel scholarship to Algeria, followed by another the next year. He was to return often to the country, which he soon regarded as a second home, and immersed himself in the local culture. He spent up to nine months a year there, and in 1904 bought a home in the town of Bou-Saada in southern Algeria. Admitted to the Légion d’Honneur in 1886, he won a silver medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1900. In 1893 Dinet was among the founder members of Société des Peintres Orientalistes. By the turn of the century Dinet was regarded by many critics as one of the leading Orientalist painters of his generation, and among the most realistic and ethnographic in his approach. As one contemporary writer noted, ‘No other painter has evidenced such an intimate knowledge of the East; no one has caught and recorded with such fidelity the spirit of the Orient – people, topography, atmosphere, everything in his canvases is true to fact; no one has so vitalized his pictures with the breath that is not of the Occident…Dinet gives us the East as an Oriental sees it…in Dinet’s case we have the work of a man who by study and residence has literally made himself an Oriental, and who sees and feels the East as an Oriental must naturally feel and see it.’ Proficient in Arabic and a translator of works of Arab literature into French, Dinet had a thorough understanding and appreciation of North African culture. By 1913 he converted to Islam, changing his name to Nasreddine Dinet (or Nasr-ad-Dine).