Prosper Marilhat

The Rest of the Nomads , circa 1830
Oil on canvas
signed lower left
Dimensions: 21.5 x 32cm
Price upon request

Perfectly composed, the works of Marilhat live on the fidelity of a description above all concerned with rendering the luminosity of the Orient. Here, the painter depicts the hot hours of the day. In the foreground, a man stretches his arm towards the mountains as he addresses two men, seated under a tree. The viewer’s gaze follows his finger, pointed towards the steep mountain peaks.

The painter adorns the men with brightly colored fabrics, which contrast with the whiteness of the nomads’ tent in the background. The tree provides a saving shade; it nuances the painter’s palette and gives a feeling of realism to the scene.

French Orientalism has long been reduced to a few names (Delacroix, Chassériau and Gérôme almost exclusively, Decamps for memory, Fromentin for Dominique) so that we do not see with satisfaction the interest of focusing on other artists: Marilhat of course, but also Adrien Dauzats, Adrien Guignet, Léon Belly, Narcisse Berchère… Since the curiosity of historians focused on their works, they are no longer unknown.

Marilhat is a student of Roqueplan. Between 1831 and 1833, he was marked by the Orient thanks to the two-year trip he made to Greece and the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt), as a draftsman of the scientific expedition of Baron de Hugel.
At the Salon of 1834, the Place de l’Esbekieh (current location unknown) was hailed as a masterpiece of verismo by Théophile Gautier: the reputation of the painter was made (Théodore Chassériau painted his portrait, it is kept in the Musée du Louvre). From then on, he never stopped drawing on his memories and his sketchbooks to create new paintings.


• Bruno Foucart, “Prosper Marilhat (1811-1847)”, Encyclopædia Universalis online

• “Prosper Marilhat”, Oxford Art Online

• Théophile Gautier, “Prosper Marilhat”, Revue des deux mondes, n°23, 1848, p. 56–75

• Gabriel Marri, “Prosper Marilhat orientalist and Auvergne painter (1811-1847)”, Literary and Picturesque Month, February 1912, Paris

• Danièle Menu, Prosper Marilhat (1811-1847): study, correspondence, documents, catalogue, 1978, Dijon


• In Paris and the Paris region: Louvre Museum, graphic arts department and painting department; Condé Museum in Chantilly.

• In France: Lille Fine Arts Museum; Reims Museum of Fine Arts; Magnin National Museum in Dijon; Fabre Museum in Montpellier; Roger-Quilliot art museum in Clermont-Ferrand; Angers Fine Arts Museum; municipal museum of Sens; Dole Fine Arts Museum; Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology of Besançon; MUDO-Musée de l’Oise in Beauvais; Crozatier Le Puy-en-Velay museum.