The Wallace Collection

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The Arab Tale-teller
  • Horace Vernet (1789 - 1863)
  • The Arab Tale-teller
  • Italy
  • 1833
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 99 x 136.5 cm
  • Signature: 'Horace Vernet / Rome 1833'
  • P280
  • Oriental Armoury
Further Reading
  • This picture was painted in Rome by Vernet immediately after the first of five visits he was to make to Algeria. It was the first of many Orientalist paintings he exhibited at the Paris Salon and elsewhere. It was painted for the 12th Earl of Pembroke who at the time lived in Paris, like the 4th Marquess of Hertford. The tale-teller in the right foreground wears a grey and white striped burnouse; the classically posed girl on the left (her pose derived from the Venus de Milo) recalls the nobility which Vernet and other European artists in the nineteenth century discerned in the common people of North Africa and the Middle East. The composition has interesting parallels with Delacroix's famous painting 'Les Femmes d'Alger' (1834; Paris, Louvre) which was also exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1834. Also in 1833 (though the painting is dated 1834) Vernet painted a second version, with variations, of the Wallace Collection's painting (Chantilly, Musée Condé).