Antique Orientalist oil painting by Bridell-Fox, 1865

By Bridell-Fox, Eliza Florence (English, 1824–1903)


Rendered in a muted colour palette, this sensitive Orientalist portrait of a seated Algerian woman is by a pioneering British female artist.


Questions about this piece?


This intimate portrait is by the British artist Eliza Florence Bridell-Fox (1824–1903). Bridell-Fox studied for three years at Sass' Academy under the directorship of Francis Stephen Cary, before becoming a teacher to women artists: her pupils included Laura Herford, the first woman to be admitted to the Royal Academy. Following the death of her husband in 1862, she took a long trip to Algiers – highly unusual for a female artist at this time. During the trip, she continued to make portraits of both visitors and natives, and this intriguing portrait of a native Algerian woman was likely made during this time.

The subject of the painting is a seated Algerian woman. She looks to her left at something beyond the canvas, and the viewer feels as if Bridell-Fox has captured her in a moment of preoccupation. She is dressed in white, wearing a headscarf and flowing clothing, and is seen in the process of wrapping a pink blanket around herself. The painting feels like a genuine glimpse into the life and thoughts of a real Algerian woman, and this lack of idealisation makes it stand out from other more ‘exoticised’ Orientalist works.

The woman sits in an abstract location, surrounded by glimpses of North African architectural design. In the foreground, a decorative patterned textile is draped, perhaps suggesting the woman’s profession.

The work is rendered in a painterly, almost sketched quality that anticipates the oncoming Impressionist movement. A muted colour palette of browns, pinks, and creams is superbly contrasted by thoughtful points of bright colour, such as the yellow flower tucked behind the subject’s ear, or the red rug on which she sits.

Ensconced in a beautifully carved giltwood frame, the painting is signed and dated 'E. F. Bridell / Alger / 1865' in the lower right corner.

Capturing a quiet moment of repose, this remarkable female portrait was created by an equally remarkable 19th century female artist.

Canvas: Height 33cm, width 25cm
Frame: Height 49.5cm, width 42cm, depth 6cm




Artist / Maker
By Bridell-Fox, Eliza Florence (English, 1824–1903)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
Figurative Art, Orientalist
Giltwood, Oil on Canvas


49.5 cm / 19.3 inches
42 cm / 16.5 inches
6 cm / 2.4 inches


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