Jean Lecomte du Nouÿ, “The Sentinel,” 1877, oil on canvas, 15 x 12 in. © Sotheby’s

In this ongoing series for Fine Art Today, we take a longer look at the history and features of a soon-to-be-available artwork of note. This week we feature a highlight of Sotheby’s upcoming Orientalist Sale.

It shouldn’t surprise that European artists have long been inspired by foreign lands, particularly the Middle East and Africa. The subject’s most famous artist, Jean-Leon Gerome, also inspired generations of painters to travel abroad and capture their stunning textiles, architecture, and people.

One such painter was Jean Lecomte du Nouÿ, whose work “The Sentinel” features during Sotheby’s April 25 “Orientalist Sale” in London. Among a stunning array of available lots, “The Sentinel” is a quintessential display of oriental precision and delight. Sitting under a stone archway, a white-bearded and turbaned man takes a long drag from his ornate pipe. Sporting a brilliant red robe, the subject rests a long rifle diagonally between his legs and on his lap. His left hand rests on a propped sword.

Via Sotheby’s, “Though a technique more commonly associated with French history painting, here the artist applies it to a contemporary Islamic subject and in the name of verisimilitude. The sentinel’s Ottoman weapons are observed so faithfully that the artist must have seen them in the original, from the chibouk with its gilt tophane bowl and mouthpiece and lavender enamelled shaft; to the curved shamshir sword with its horn hilt; and the flintlock rifle with its ivory butt plate.”

Auction estimates for the brilliant work are between $74,000 and $100,000. To learn more, visit Sotheby’s.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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