Charles Hubert Millevoye’s popular 1808 poem “Le Tombeau de coursier: Chant de L’Arab” (“Memorial to the Steed: The Arab’s Song”) inspired numerous paintings and sculptures. Here the desolate desert emphasizes the despair of the Arab who grieves the death of his faithful companion. His horse has been avenged, for the body of another lies nearby. This exotic scene is an early example of Romanticism, a movement that would flourish for the next thirty years. With its emphasis on the imagination and emotion, the Romantic period in French art is difficult to characterize. As the poet and critic Charles Baudelaire wrote in 1846, “Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor in exact truth, but in a way of feeling.”
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- Titles L'Arabe pleurant son coursier (The Arab Lamenting the Death of his Steed) (Proper)
- Artist Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse, French, 1784 - 1844
- Medium oil on canvas
- Dimensions 32 x 39 in. (81.3 x 99.1 cm) frame: 42 × 49 3/8 × 3 1/2 in. (106.7 × 125.4 × 8.9 cm)
- Credit Line Museum purchase with funds provided by the Beaux Arts Krewe, 1994.29
- Work Type painting
- Classification Paintings
- On View
- Provenance Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse (1784-1844), about 1812 [see note 1]; possibly auctioned at Tableaux, Estampes, et Autres Articles Curieux, Composant le Cabinet d’un Artiste, H. Delaroche, Paris, June 14-15, 1814, lot 21 [see note 2]. Unknown dealer in Paris [see note 3]; purchased by dealer Stair Sainty Matthiesen, Inc., New York; purchased by the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, 1994
1. Another version of this painting is signed and dated 1812 and in the collection of the Musées d'Angers, France. It is much larger at 103 x 154 inches (262 x 391 cm). Mauzaisse likely used 1994.29 as a model for the Angers painting.
2. The listed dimensions for lot 21 are “large 36, hied 24 ½ p.” (24.5 x 39 inches; 62,23 x 99,44 cm). Only the width matches 1994.29, which measures 32 x 39 inches (81.3 x 99.1 cm). The sale could not have been the work at the Les Musées d'Angers (103 x 154 inches; 262 x 391 cm), as that painting was purchased from Mauzaisse by the French government on May 5, 1815. See Société de L'Histoire de L'Art Français Nouvelles Archives de L'Art Français: Recueil de Documents inédits. Vol. 5. Edited by J. Baur. Paris: Charavay Freres, 1900, p. 61.
3. According to correspondence with Stair Sainty Matthiesen. See object file.