Executed in the late nineteenth century, this fine oil-on-canvas painting by the British artist Wilfred Vincent Herbert depicts an Orientalist genre scene. Titled 'Bargain in the Desert,' it shows a young boy engaged in a discussion over price of some sort with an older male figure to the right. Behind him stands a white mule, the saddle richly decorated, and a woman walks along a low wall in the background, balancing a water vessel on her head. The muted pastel tones of the artist's palette, with the occasional flash of vibrant colour, successfully and convincingly evoke the sense of the Arabian desert. The canvas sits inside a carved giltwood frame, and it is signed in the lower right 'Wilfrid V Herbert.' The frame measures 83 x 65.5 cm.
Herbert exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1863 and 1891. For the first few years his landscapes and genre subjects such as this had a Middle Eastern setting, indicating he had travelled there previously. After 1866 he specialised in history and genre painting, occasionally exhibiting portraits. The first painting he exhibited, 'Caravan halting at a well in the desert,' is housed in the V&A.