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The Carpet Merchant of Cairo

Jean-Léon Gérôme

European Art

Jean-Léon Gérôme traveled frequently through Egypt and the Ottoman Empire from 1853 onward, collecting photographs, textiles, and other props to use in his Paris studio. Although his detailed rendering of two carpets lends this painting a documentary appearance, Gérôme’s stereotypical portrayal of an Egyptian carpet vendor and brightly costumed passersby reveals his desire to appeal to European fantasies of the Arab-Islamic world. In France, such imagined scenes were interpreted as faithful records of an unchanging “Orient,” helping to justify and obscure the harrowing transformations enacted by European imperialism within North Africa and the Middle East.
MEDIUM Oil on canvas
  • Place Made: Europe
  • DATES 1869
    DIMENSIONS 31 7/8 x 22 in. (81 x 55.9 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE Signed lower left: "J.L. GEROME."
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Joseph Gluck
    PROVENANCE February 1869, acquired from the artist by Goupil & Cie, Paris, France; February 18, 1869, purchased from Goupil & Cie, no. 3937, by Henry Wallis of French Gallery, London, United Kingdom; 1871, purchased from French Gallery by Heinrich Wilhelm Ferdinand Bölckow of Middleborough, United Kingdom; May 2, 1891, purchased at Christie, Manson & Woods, London, Bölckow sale lot 70, by Arthur Tooth and Sons, London; between 1891 and 1903, provenance not yet documented; before 1903, possibly acquired by Henry C. Gibson of Philadelphia, PA; before April 28, 1903, acquired by Irving M. Scott of San Francisco, CA; February 9, 1906, purchased at American Art Galleries, New York, “Old and Modern Masters Collected by the Late Irving M. Scott San Francisco” lot 37, by Arthur Tooth & Sons; between 1906 and 1931, provenance not yet documented; before 1931, possibly acquired by the Sansome Collection; February 4-5, 1931, purchased from an unidentified private collector, possibly Sansome Collection, at American Art Association, New York, lot 62 by Plaza Curiosity Shop, New York; between 1931 and 1939, provenance not yet documented; 1939, purchased at Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, sale 114 no. 44 by F. Schnittjer and Son, New York; January 15, 1943, sold at Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, “Property of F. Schnittjer & Son New York” lot. 186; between 1943 and 1974, provenance not yet documented; by 1974, acquired by Kende Galleries, New York; October 9, 1974, purchased from Kende Galleries at Sotheby’s, New York, “19th Century European Paintings” lot 161, by Joseph Gluck of New York; December 30, 1974, gift of Joseph Gluck to the Brooklyn Museum.
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    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904). The Carpet Merchant of Cairo, 1869. Oil on canvas, 31 7/8 x 22 in. (81 x 55.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Joseph Gluck, 74.208 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 74.208_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 74.208_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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