1853 - 1907
The Gold Brooch

Oil on panel, signed, dated and inscribed ‘Bou Saada, 1894’ lower right
Image size: 13 x 8 3/4 inches (33 x 22.25 cm)
Ornate Gilt frame



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Euguene Alexis Girardet

A child prodigy, Girardet was already selling his paintings at seventeen. His artistic career had begun at home under the training of his father. He later went on to study at L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Jean-Léon Gérôme. It was Gérôme who encouraged Girardet to travel to the Orient although he had already acquired a fascination for this area from listening to his uncle’s tales.

In 1874 Girardet visited Morocco and Algeria. He made several more trips to North Africa during the 1870s, including a visit to Tunisia in 1877. However, it was Algeria that most attracted the artist; he preferred the southern towns such as El-Kantara, Biskra and Bou-Saada. It was in Bou-Saada that he met the fellow Orientalist Etienne Dinet.

He returned seven more times, not just to collect studies for his paintings, but to experience their way of life at first hand. He loved the landscape and the people, which were still free from French colonial influence.

From 1874 he exhibited in Munich, Berlin and the Paris Salons. From the mid-1880s his work was also frequently exhibited in Geneva, Zürich and London.

This stunning portrait depicts a woman from Bou-Saada, possibly an Oulud Nail dancer. The painting glows with light, it pours across her face, revealing her flesh tones and creating shadows. The stunning black headdress contrasts well with the red of her dress.

Algiers, Bâle, Geneva, Paris, Nantes, Saintes and Zurich