Eugène Fromentin

French (1820–1876)

Arabs Charging Through a  Forest Path

c. 1861

Oil on canvas

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During the nineteenth century, North African pictures were enormously popular. Trade and colonial expansion created an interest in what the Europeans perceived as an exotic world. The Arabs living there were sometimes viewed as unspoiled children of nature in contrast to the industrialized West.

Fromentin, a well-known art critic and novelist, traveled to North Africa, published several books describing his experiences living among the Bedouin tribes. This painting depicts a wild cross-country horse race—popular entertainment for holiday festivals. The vigorous brushwork imparts excitement and motion and the glittering colors suggest the influence of the French Romantic painter, Eugène Delacroix.

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