Large Orientalist watercolour of Turkish scholars by A. Rosati

By Rosati, Alberto (Italian, 1893-1971)


This sensitive rendering of two scholars studying the Quran is filled with vibrant colours and patterning, ensconced in an ornate giltwood frame.


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Rendered in watercolour, this intimate scene is by the Italian artist Alberto Rosati (1893-1971). Son of the prolific Orientalist painter Giulio Rosati (1857-1917), Alberto followed in his father’s footsteps, also becoming known for Academic-style watercolours which depicted everyday scenes of life in the Middle East. This painting is an exceptional example of his trademark style, showing the viewer two Turkish scholars who recline as they discuss the Quran.

The painting depicts two figures, both of whom hold a copy of the Quran. The two men are dressed in typical Orientalist fashions: their flowing trousers, shirts, and robes are rendered in bright hues of red, green, and blue, with the ornate patterning and decoration expertly rendered by the artist. Rosati has created an interesting dichotomy between the two figures. One sits forward with his text open as he gesticulates and discourses, whilst the other reclines on a cushion as he gazes outside of the canvas, text closed in his lap. He thus imbues the scene with life, giving a strong sense of character to his figures in a way that is unusual for scenes of this type.

The figures are surrounded by signifiers of the Orientalist setting. An incense pipe stands in the upper right-hand corner, against a wall decorated with a geometric mosaic design. The figures sit atop a beautiful Persian rug of a deep red colour, which has an ornamental border of typical geometric fashion. In the right foreground, the slippers of the reclining figure have been placed in the corner of the rug, indicating either preparation for prayer or leisure. In the right background, a palm plant peeks out from behind the wall. The entire scene is surrounded by a later added frame, which expertly complements the colours and patterns of the watercolour with its painted-red base and foliate gilt decoration.  

Rosati’s skill at the watercolour medium is particularly evident in this painting. Whilst the figures are rendered in a painterly, almost Impressionist style, Rosati has still managed to capture the minute details and patterns of their environment with a strong degree of verisimilitude.

The painting is signed ‘Alberto Rosati’ in the top left-hand corner.

With its sensitive rendering of a quiet moment, this exceptional watercolour would make an excellent addition to any collection of Orientalist art.

Panel: Height 36cm, width 52cm
Frame: Height 72cm, width 89cm, depth 4.5cm


Artist / Maker
By Rosati, Alberto (Italian, 1893-1971)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Early 20th Century
Early 20th Century
Giltwood, Watercolour, Paperboard


72 cm / 28.3 inches
89 cm / 35 inches
4.5 cm / 1.6 inches


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