This superb oil painting depicts the halt of a caravan at an oasis in the desert. The middle ground of the composition is occupied by a group of seated merchants and two groups of huddled camels, while the foreground of includes a cool pool of turquoise water, and the background is lined with the minarets and domes of a nearby village. The colour palette employed by Frère hints at the heat of the midday sun: the blue sky is blanched pale, and the ochre sand below is brittle with dryness. The air in the scene is palpable with heat haze and blown sand, granting the painting a strikingly immediate character.
Charles-Théodore Frère was a famous French Orientalist painter who journeyed to parts of the Middle East and North Africa in search of subjects for his paintings. Other works by Frère can be viewed today in major art collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.
This oil on panel painting is contained within a giltwood frame and is signed and dated ‘Th. Frère. 1855’ in the lower left corner.