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#33 Eugene Louis Charvot: View of Rue El-Alfahoui

May

03

 

Eugène Louis Charvot (French, 1847-1924), View of Rue El – Alfahoui, 1889, oil on canvas, 47 ¼ x 39 7/8 in., Given by Yvonne Charvot Barnett in memory of her father Eugène Louis Charvot, AG.1999.5.3.

In 1889 Charvot painted View of the Rue El-Alfahouine in Tunis. It became one of his major exhibition canvases and was included in the Municipal Exposition of Geneva, Switzerland in 1898. A large canvas of Tunisian city life, it captures the rhythm of the city. In a letter to a niece he wrote:

The city of Tunis and particularly the Arab markets are from the point of view of the artist beyond all description. Delacroix, Fortuny, only gave a faint idea of it. There … all is bright and colored, luminous and fresh. The cube-shaped houses, the mosques, dabbled high and low with white lime, shine under the eastern sun like immense blocks of chalk.

Charvot was clearly taken by the exotic aspects of life in North Africa. When he was sent to Gabès, a lonely desert outpost in southern Tunisia, he used his free time to explore various desert communities. Following are some of his observations:

Djara presents an extraordinary appearance for a Parisian, especially the section extending into the oasis.… I am in a country completely unexplored by painters, and I want to make a good showing before leaving. If my paintings aren’t sucessful … at least they have the appeal of the strange and are sincere.

The Charvot Collection is comprised of 19 paintings, 202 works on paper, and associated archival materials. Research on the collection is continuing and will be presented in special exhibitions and publications.

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