'Pyramides de Gyzeh', large Orientalist oil painting by Frere

By Frère, Charles-Théodore (French, 1814-1888)


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The painting depicts a natural landscape, with the sun setting in the distance to the right, casting a beautiful golden light over the scene. In the left-hand foreground, a dog stops to drink from a puddle of water. In the mid-ground, to the right, a group of figures sit on the bank of a water pool. A woman, dressed in a navy burka, washes clothes in the water, while a similarly dressed woman and two turbaned men sit and talk, with large water urns placed beside them on the grass. In the right-hand distance, a woman walks away into the distance, carrying a large urn of water on her head. The strong diagonal axis created by the dog and figures leads our eye back into the composition, encouraging us to admire the great landscape in which they are set.

In the distance, there stands the pyramids of Giza, with a river or lake, possibly the Nile, before them. A flock of birds, most likely storks or ibis, land on an island of land projecting out from the water. A second flock of birds flies, in V-formation, across the sky in the upper area of the canvas. The landscape is dotted with palm trees, which diminish in size as they near the horizon, helping to convey a sense of perspective. Frere was clearly captivated by the beauty of the landscape, with its ancient ruins, and the effects of light upon it.

Charles-Theodore Frere has employed short, well-blended strokes when painting this piece. This technique enabled him to render the figures and landscape in great detail, giving the scene an impressive photo-realist quality. The canvas is signed and titled, 'Th. Frere. / Pyramides de Gyzeh. / Egypte', in the lower left of the composition. The painting is set within a refined giltwood frame.

This painting was exhibited at the prestigious Paris Salon of 1885, which was held in the Palais de Champs-Elysees.


Exhibited at the Paris Salon, Palais de Champs-Elysees, in 1885, no. 1020, listed in the publication Librairie d'art L. Baschet, Bibliothèque des Annales, Paris, 1885, p. XXVI, as 'Pyramides et plaine de Gyzeh pendant l'inondation du Nil. Crépuscule' Charles-Theodore.


Artist / Maker
By Frère, Charles-Théodore (French, 1814-1888)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Late 19th Century
Landscape, Orientalist
Giltwood, Oil on Canvas
Blue, Brown, Gold, Green, Orange, Yellow


145 cm / 57.1 inches
180 cm / 70.9 inches
6 cm / 2.4 inches


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