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The Moorish Chief
The Moorish Chief, 1878
Eduard Charlemont, Austrian
Oil on panel
59 1/8 x 38 1/2 inches (150.2 x 97.8 cm)
John G. Johnson Collection, 1917
Cat. 951
[ More Details ]

Let's Look

  • Who is this man and where is he standing? What makes him look so powerful?
  • Where is the light coming from? How can you tell?
  • What makes this painting look so real

Let’s Look Again

  • Imagine changing one important thing in this painting—the clothing, the lighting, the architecture, the gender, or the skin color. How would this change your response to the painting? Share your ideas with a partner.
  • Intricate patterns are common in Moorish and Islamic art and architecture. How many patterns can you find in this painting? (Look at the vaults and arches, the tiles, the carpet, and the large copper bowl.)

Hands-on Activities

  • Have you noticed that half of the Moorish Chief’s face and half of his right arm are in shadow? Experiment with a partner and a lamp or a large flashlight to create dramatic shadows like these on yourselves.
  • Find geometric shapes in the architecture in this painting. Choose your two favorite ones, draw them on lightweight cardboard, then carefully cut them out. Use colored pencils to trace around the shapes and develop a pattern of your own.

Writing Activities

  • Write definitions for the italicized words in the text. Then, using five of these words, write a paragraph describing in detail the physical appearance, from top to toe, of one of your favorite heroes or heroines in life or in literature.
  • Imagine that you are exploring the dark, shadowy rooms of the Alhambra. You come around a corner and find yourself face-to-face with the Moorish Chief. What would you say? What would happen next?

For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .

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