Large Orientalist oil painting of two siblings by Burgess

By Burgess, John Bagnold (British, 1830-1897)


Set within a typical Middle Eastern interior, this superb painting by English artist J. B. Burgess depicts a preoccupied brother and sister.


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This exquisite Orientalist painting is of exceptional quality, creating a sensitive portrait of two Arab children.  

The two figures are Arab, possibly Moroccan since the artist was known to have journeyed to Morocco during his career. The children appear to be siblings – on the right, a boy, on the left, a girl – given the similarity of their features. Both children look to the right at a point beyond the canvas, with a somewhat concerned expression. The sister tenderly embraces the brother, and there is a certain disjunct between her embrace and the reserved posture of the young boy. Their worried expressions combined with the embrace add a sense of unrest to the portrait – highly unusual for works of this type. The capturing of such an evocative atmosphere speaks to the skill of the artist.

The figures are dressed in shining green and gold robes, which are rendered with impressive verisimilitude. These are complemented by the bright gilt pattern of the girl’s hijab, as well as the red sash around the boy’s waist.

The two figures are surrounded by multiple references to the Middle Eastern setting. In the very foreground is a ledge decorated with blue and white geometric tiles. In the background is a fluted spiral pillar, whilst a green palm plant peeks out from the left side of the canvas.

Ensconced in a beautifully carved giltwood frame, the painting is signed ‘J. B. Burgess’ in the lower right corner. The frame is also inscribed. John Bagnold Burgess RA (1829 – 1897) was an English painter known for his historical and genre scenes. Over his long career, he exhibited over 70 pictures at the Royal Academy.

This stunning portrait is rendered with exceptional skill and would be a stand-out piece in any interior.

Two similar paintings by the same artist sold at Sotheby’s Freddie Mercury: A World of His Own Sale.

Canvas: Height 72cm, width 51cm
Frame: Height 85cm, width 64cm, depth 5cm


Artist / Maker
By Burgess, John Bagnold (British, 1830-1897)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Orientalist, Portrait
Oil on Canvas


85 cm / 33.5 inches
64 cm / 25.2 inches
5 cm / 2 inches


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