Large Orientalist painting of an Egyptian mosque by Berchère

By Berchère, Narcisse (French, 1819-1891)


Depicting a mosque with a towering minaret set against a dazzling blue sky, this composition is typical of Berchère’s Orientalist work.


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By the Orientalist painter Narcisse Berchère (1819-1891), this tranquil scene is set in Cairo, Egypt, as indicated by the dome and minaret of the Sultan Abu al-'Ila Mosque that towers into the sky.

The scene is dominated by the mosque in the upper left quadrant. The crumbling exterior of the centuries-old dome is contrasted by the pristine minaret, which extends almost beyond the limits of the canvas. In the foreground, groups of figures can be seen going about their day, conversing or leading donkeys across the plain. Small buildings in the right far background suggest that a busy city extends beyond this quiet rural scene.

The artist’s handling of colour and light is particularly impressive in this work. The pale brown tones of the mosque and surrounding architecture are wonderfully contrasted by the deep green of the trees. Yet both the buildings and the trees can stand out against the brilliant blue sky, which graduates in intensity as the canvas ascends. The painting combines broader brushstrokes that convey the hazy heat of the midday Cairo sun, with sections of fine detail, such as the decoration on the minaret’s exterior. Such deft handling of different painterly techniques is a marker of Berchère’s quality as an artist.

The painting is ensconced in a giltwood frame, elegantly carved with a geometric design. The painting is signed in the lower left ‘Berchère’. Berchère is known for his Orientalist scenes, captured on his extensive travels to the Middle East.

This beautiful painting is a wonderful snapshot of Cairo in the 19th century, that is perfect for any collector of antique artwork.

Canvas: Height 62cm, width 47cm
Frame: Height 83cm, width 70cm, depth 7.5cm


Exhibited Berchère et l'Orient au Pays d'Etampes. Musée des Beaux Arts, Etampes, 2019


Prost, B. ‘Artistes modernes –Catalogue illustré des œuvres de N. Berchère’, in Dictionnaire illustré des beaux-arts, Paris, 1885.


Artist / Maker
By Berchère, Narcisse (French, 1819-1891)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Figurative Art, Islamic, Orientalist
Giltwood, Oil on Canvas


83 cm / 32.7 inches
70 cm / 27.6 inches
7.5 cm / 2.8 inches


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