Large Orientalist oil painting of figures at the shore by Saloman

By Saloman, Geskel (Danish/Swedish, 1821-1902)


Wonderfully illuminated by the cool evening light, this tender portrayal of human activity is beautifully rendered in pastel shades.


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This stunning figurative landscape scene by Geskel Saloman (1821-1902) is remarkable for its sensitive handling of both subject and colour. Whilst many Orientalist painters utilised vibrant colours and bustling scenes to conjure up a sense of exoticism, this landscape scene instead portrays a group of figures at the shoreline, who are all engaged in peaceful domestic tasks – cooking, washing, or chatting.

The setting is most likely the banks of the Bosphorus in Turkey. The rocky landscape is expertly depicted: Saloman creates superb textural contrasts between the shingled beach and the rough rocks - which are rendered in short, painterly brushstrokes - and the calm water with its cresting white waves, evocatively bringing the scene to life for the viewer. The scene is set in the dusky evening, with the twilight glow casting shades of pink and orange onto the gently rolling clouds. These beautiful, muted tones create a sense of tranquillity in this painting, which would add a touch of peaceful beauty to an interior.

The figures are separated into smaller groups, with each group engaged in its own domestic activity. In the left foreground, two women wash themselves in the shallow waters. No detail has been spared, from the pooling tides of white water around their ankles to the way they grasp their bunched-up skirts to keep them out of the water: these figures feel very lifelike to the viewer. Moving towards the right of the painting, multiple groups are cooking on the shore, with the trio in the central foreground lowering a chicken onto hot coals. Saloman has skilfully rendered the rising plumes of smoke and steam to further invoke the viewer’s senses. In the right foreground, a trio of women chat, as two of them clean a white garment.

In the left background, there are three figures more removed from the action, who are seated on a rock watching the action take place on the shore. With this group, Saloman cleverly mirrors the position of the viewer of the painting, creating a circularity to the composition which draws the viewer’s attention back to the action in the centre.

All of the figures are dressed in traditional Orientalist clothing, rendered in neutral whites and beiges with colourful red and blue accents. Gold elements adorn the female figures, adding a touch of luxury to this domiciliary scene.

Geskel Saloman was a Danish-Swedish artist. Whilst in his early career he was known as a highly sought portraitist in Sweden, he later turned towards genre and historical paintings, and this artwork is testimony to his skill in these larger landscape compositions.

With its heartwarming subject and exceptional painterly qualities, this stunning oil work would make a sensational addition to any collection of Orientalist art.

Canvas: Height 78cm, width 118cm
Frame: Height 94cm, width 133cm, depth 7cm


Sotheby's London, Sale LN7623- The Turkish Sale, 17 October 1997, Lot 329


Artist / Maker
By Saloman, Geskel (Danish/Swedish, 1821-1902)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Oil on Canvas


94 cm / 37 inches
133 cm / 52.4 inches
7 cm / 2.8 inches


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