London – During the second half of the 19th century and early years of the 20th, Orientalist art was highly popular and the demand for new work attracted many artists to the genre. Not all of them, however, had visited the countries whose culture they were depicting, relying instead on photographs and artistic licence. That could not be said of the Paris- based American painter Frederick Bridgman, who spent 1872-1877 living in Egypt and Algiers patiently acquainting himself with the subjects that would become his life’s work. He produced hundreds of preparatory sketches and acquired a large collection of objects, costumes and architectural pieces to serve as props for his paintings. One of his finest and most characteristic works leads Bonhams 63-lot Orientalist Art sale in London on Tuesday 14 June. Painted at the end of the 19th century, New Shoes, Algiers is estimated at £100,000-150,000.
Head of Sale Leo Webster said: “New Shoes Algiers is a wonderful example of Bridgman’s exceptional palette and his sheer joy in the use of colour. Although he was sometimes referred to as ‘the American Gérôme’, and indeed did study with the French master at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Bridgman developed his own distinctive style, broader and more impressionistic as seen in this painting. He enjoyed considerable commercial success in his lifetime and his work continues to be much sought after by collectors today.”
Other highlights include:
By the Fountain by Ferdinand Bredt, (German 1868-1921). Another artist who owed a debt to Gérôme, Bredt was, like Bridgman, well versed in his subject, having travelled in Greece, Italy, Turkey and Tunisia. He produced an extensive body of work both in oil and watercolour which was exhibited as far afield as Chicago, London, Berlin and Paris. Although little is known of Bredt’s life, his name lives on through his exceptional work. The artist’s obsession with detail gives his paintings an authentic feel, enhanced by the fine modelling of the architecture. So steeped was Bredt in his subject that his own house and studio in Ruhpolding, in southwestern Bavaria, were built in the Arabian style. Fresh to the market, the work has been in private hands since it was purchased by the owners’ grandparents in the 1920s. Estimate: £100,000-150,000.
Musicians at rest by Rudolf Ernst (Austrian, 1854-1932).Orientalist subjects dominate Ernst’s output from 1885, inspired by studying the Moorish architecture of Southern Spain, and by visits to Tangier and Constantinople. Ernst was especially drawn to the Gnaoua, an ethnic group who often worked as ritual musicians and dancers. Like the work of his great friend and contemporary Ludwig Deutsch, Ernst surrounded himself with objects, textiles and artefacts collected during his travels – props which populate his paintings. Estimate: £100,000-150,000.
Zanzibar by Sir Frank Brangwyn, RA (British, 1867-1956). Signed and dated 1891, the work was likely to have been inspired by a visit to the Zanzibar Archipelago during a painting trip to South Africa, though there is no definitive evidence that the artist made such a visit. The highly effective use of colour provides a fascinating link to Bridgman’s New Shoes, Algiers. Estimate: £40,000-60,000.