Skip to main content

Main Building

The Moorish Chief

Eduard Charlemont (Austrian, 1848–1906)
Eduard Charlemont used studio props and a paid model to evoke a world of luxury and power and an architectural setting that resembles the Islamic palace of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. (The canvas was once called The Alhambra Guard.) This work demonstrates the romantic lens through which white Europeans regarded the traditions, peoples, and places of Muslim Spain and the French colonies in West Africa. Although Charlemont painted few African subjects and was best known for portraits and depictions of European historical subjects, his singular ability to convey a model’s personality and to suggest different textures and surfaces is evident here. The name of the model who posed for this commanding figure standing in a palace doorway may never be known. The artist had recently come to Paris from Vienna and was little known when he exhibited this work to great acclaim at the 1878 Paris Salon.

Object Details

We are always open to learning more about our collections and updating the website. Does this record contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Contact us here.

Please note that this particular artwork might not be on view when you visit. Don’t worry—we have plenty of exhibitions for you to explore.

Main Building