Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
by Ludwig Deutsch (Austrian Orientalist, 1855-1930)
signed and dated ' Le Caire 1898"
oil on panel 27 x 23.38 in (68.5 x 59.5 cm)
Deutsch painted the tomb chamber at the Aqsunqur Mosque in Cairo. The mosque was originally built in 1346, but received a major renovation in 1652. This is when the Ottoman blue tiles were added, hence the name " Blue Mosque".
Images of piety and prayer were depicted by many of the Orientalist painters. Unlike European churches that often were decorated excessivly, the interior of a mosque was a rather empty, spacious environment adorned mainly by intricate tilework.
In this work Deutsch has given us a sense of the spaciousness of the mosque through the use of the many vertical elements in the picture. To anchore the main figure, he has chosen to place him between the two vertical columns of the tomb and cleverly framed him, by starting the tile work on the back wall at the same level of the columns.
His color choice for the garment is also intersting. The vibrant red is a nice compliment to the blues and sets his main figure apart from the surroundings.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
signed and dated "L. Deutsch 1883" upper left
oil on panel
18 z 11 3/4 in (45.6X 29.8 cm)
This painting shows architectural influences from his first trip to Egypt in 1883, Damascus and the Ottoman Empire.
This work is a masterpiece in observation and execution. Deutsch painted with a hairline brush to capture every minute detail, weather it is on the body of the men, the garments, props or architectural elements. When compared to a smaller study for this work one can see that Deutsch has given much thought to improve the composion. He added visual interest by changing the pattern of the marble floor tiles from that of a rather heavy, two tone chess board pattern to a lighter diamond shape pattern. This change along with the light pattern on the stairs creates a light infused atmospere in the room.
He has taken artisitc liberties with the 17th century Syrian tiles behind the servant. These tiles would have been laid on the floor rather than on the wall.
"Ceramic tiles from Iznik, Diyarbakir and Damascus all depict flower scrolls, which are symbols in Islam for intellectual growth and God's continues presence in nature. Although large groupings of such scrolls produced by four, six, or eight tiles were repeated throughout even larger designs, individual tiles were not repeated in purely geometric patterns. The tile grouping, therefore appears to be based on a single tile that might have been in his private collection. Chritistie's Catalog Oct. 2001, P. 24
Ludwig Deutsch had collected many props on his travels and he used the in many of his paintings. Here a 18th Century Turkish tombak ewer and basin on a 19th Century mother of pearl table and a 19th Century indo Persian shield act as props to lighten up and add interest to the corner.
The main figure, the Chieftain wears a beautifully Salmon colored Balkan robe, which is greatly embellished with beads. The high contrast of the pale pinks against the dark skin of the figure just make him visually pop out from the muted dark background. Deutsch understood that in order to improve this painting the colors had to be more intense and required greater contrast.