The Saddle Bazaar, Cairo

The Saddle Bazaar, Cairo, exhibits concerns typical of the Orientalist painter: exotic customs, physiognomy, dress, and architecture. From memories of his many journeys to Egypt and from studio memorabilia, Jean-Leon Gerome has re-created a corner of Cairo. Attention is focused on a magnificent white horse with henna-dyed mane and tail, and on a transaction between a bashi-bazouk (Turkish merchant) and a Jewish merchant. With expressive gestures the men actively bargain over a bridle. The horse seems to listen with interest, a witty touch as is often found in Gerome’s work. The anecdote is kept simple, so as not to detract from the picturesque accessories and costumes or from the carefully observed anatomy of the horse. Tack displayed before the stall and hanging from a rope help define the setting as Cairo’s saddle bazaar.

Located in the McKee Gallery

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