Adolf Schreyer was one of the most successful Orientalist painters of his generation, and this painting is one of his most characteristic and perhaps finest works. Schreyer was best known for his beautiful, emotive depictions of Arab soldiers and horses and it was this which made him a firm favourite painter of many elite European and American families in the second half of the 19th Century.
Schreyer had travelled many times to the Orient over the course of his career, and the present painting was inspired by his travels in Algeria during the 1860s, during which he lived with Bedouin tribes and worked as an 'artist-reporter' in the regiment of the Prince of Thurn and Taxis. It was here that he developed his distinctive painting style, using a rich, vivid colour palette which reflected the sensual beauty of the North African landscape.
The work depicts two horses and two horsemen at rest by a well. The horses, one brown and one white, drink water, while the horsemen sit contentedly nearby. The well is a beautiful ruin, picturesque in its dilapidation, while the distant background is evocative of the Atlas Mountains. The painting is deftly painted in the style characteristic of Schreyer.
The oil on canvas work is signed and dated lower right ‘Ad. Schreyer / (18)66’