THEODORE FRÈRE (FRA/ 1814-1888) Hookah smokers,...

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THEODORE FRÈRE (FRA/ 1814-1888) Hookah smokers,...

THEODORE FRÈRE (FRA/ 1814-1888)
Hookah smokers, circa 1857
signed 'TH. BROTHER' (bottom right); with the supplier's stamp 'PICARD HARDY' (on the reverse) and the inscription 'Monsieur Theodore Frère, artiste peintre Ecouen' (on the frame).
oil on canvas
47.5 x 40.5 cm.

After having travelled through Algeria, Turkey, Greece, Lebanon and Syria, Theodore Frère acquired international fame as an orientalist painter in the 1850s. From 1853 onwards, the artist divided his time between Cairo, where he took up a studio, and Paris, his native city. A painter at the court of Egypt's Viceroy Said Pasha, Brother also regularly exhibited at the Paris Salon, where his real and fantasy views of Egypt made him famous.

In 1855, Théodore Frère decided to leave Paris in search of a quieter environment, which he found in Ecouen, where his brother Pierre-Edouard, also a painter, was living. Théodore Frère stayed there at least until 1858, when he moved to Montmorency, before returning to Paris and then to Egypt.

In the present work, a stamp on the reverse of Picard-Hardy, a Parisian colour dealer active in 1857, as well as the mention on the stretcher 'Théodore Frère, painter Ecouen', allow us to date the work around 1857. The scene depicted is most probably a free interpretation of an Egyptian palace interior with hookah smokers, idealised evoking the oriental atmosphere, rather than a specific place. The rarity of the subject and its particularly thorough and detailed treatment make it an important work in the artist's body of work.
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