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Lot 12
Adolf Schreyer
(German, 1828-1899)
Bedouins taking aim 21 1/4 x 29in (54 x 73.8cm)
5 November 2014, 13:00 EST
New York

Sold for US$87,500 inc. premium

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Adolf Schreyer (German, 1828-1899)

Bedouins taking aim
signed 'Ad. Schreyer' (lower right)
oil on canvas
21 1/4 x 29in (54 x 73.8cm)


Ralph Hopkins Watson, Greenwich, Connecticut (Vice President of U.S. Steel).
Bequeathed to the mother of the present owners, circa1963.
Thence by descent to the present owners.

Adolf Schreyer was without doubt one of the most successful German orientalist painters of the 19th century. Celebrated during his lifetime, Schreyer was born in Frankfurt on the Main to wealthy parents who encouraged his education at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut and later at the Düsseldorf Academy. He later settled in Vienna, specializing in landscapes and military subjects, a genre much in demand at the time and which qualified him to accompany Maximilian Karl, the 6th Prince of Thurn und Taxis, on his campaigns through Hungary, Wallachia, Russia and Turkey. In 1854 he was following the Austrian army as an artist-reporter assigned to cover the Crimean War (1854-1857). In the following years, Schreyer traveled to Syria, Egypt and, by 1861, to Algeria.

It was the sojourn in Algeria that determined the future course of Schreyer's career. Fascinated by the local culture, he spent time learning the local dialects and riding with Bedouin horsemen, making them his perpetual subject for the rest of his long career.

In 1862 he established himself in Paris, where he was highly praised by the art critic Theophile Gautier and embraced by his contemporaries. The French went so far as to claim him as one of their own, as his art recalled both Delacroix and Fromentin. Another critic praised his dramatic and realistic subjects steeped in the pervasive Romanticism of the day: "His canvases seem to make you shiver with the intense coldness of the atmosphere when he paints a winter scene, while you languish under the burning sun when he conveys you to the arid atmosphere of the desert." (Le Courrier artistique, Paris, 1865).

Schreyer exhibited his pictures of Eastern European peasants and soldiers alongside countless variations on the theme of the Arab horseman at the Paris Salon and across Europe, garnering him numerous medals and honors.
During the course of Schreyer's long career, violent, even frenzied depictions of Algerian horsemen at battle gave way to more calculated compositions, in which elaborately dressed Arab figures ride through rough terrain, either singly or in groups.

The present painting demonstrates Schreyer's mastery of subject and color with great bravura. Horsemen engaged in a frontal gallop toward the viewer lend a unique dynamism to the scene, making this one of the most spectacular painting by Schreyer to come to the market in recent years.

We would like to thank Dr. Christoph Andreas for confirming the authenticity of this painting by photographs.

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