Emile-Jean-Horace VERNET (Paris 1789 - Paris 1863)

The Head of an Arab Man Sold

Pen and brown ink and brown wash.
Inscribed (signed?) par Horace Vernet at the lower left.
74 x 56 mm. (2 7/8 x 2 1/4 in.)


Orientalist and Arab subjects, as well as Biblical scenes set in the Middle East, account for a significant part of Horace Vernet’s oeuvre. In 1837 he travelled to Algeria as an artist with the French army, the first of several trips to North Africa to record the military campaigns of Louis-Philippe. He visited Egypt and Palestine in the company of his nephew Frédéric Goupil-Fesquet in 1839, making some of the first daguerreotypes of the sights of Alexandria, Cairo and Jerusalem.

This small, spirited sketch is a fine example of Vernet’s confident draughtsmanship. Similar Arab heads in profile appear throughout Vernet’s oeuvre, such as in two paintings today in the Wallace Collection in London - The Arab Tale-Teller, painted in Rome in 1833, and Judith and Tamar, painted in 1840 – as well as in The First Mass at Kabylia of 1854, in the Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne. A group of pencil studies of exotic figure types, in a private collection in Paris, includes a number of similar studies of heads.

Emile-Jean-Horace VERNET

The Head of an Arab Man


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