Arthur von Ferraris, 1856-1936, HUNGARIAN
THE ARMOURER’S SHOP, c. 1893
Oil on canvas
60 by 89cm., 23½ by 35in.
In painting Ferraris demonstrates his skill both as a draughtsman and as an acute observer of Egyptian society. From the array of weapons including kilij swords and khanjar knives, to the costumes of the shopkeepers and their client, deep in negotiation, every detail is painstakingly observed and minutely rendered, offering up a fascinating visual document of the vibrancy of life in the streets of Cairo at the turn of the century. Ferraris's fastidious attention to detail reflects the influence of his teacher, Jean-Léon Gérôme, at whose encouragement Ferraris travelled to Cairo in the winter of 1885 in the company of Ludwig Deutsch. More on this painting
Von Ferraris’ first move was to Vienna during his teenage years. His first teacher was the Viennese artist, Joseph Matthaus, who specialized in portrait painting. He did not stay long in Vienna however, leaving for Paris in 1876.
After settling into life in Paris, von Ferraris studied with Jules Lefebvre at the Académie Julian, and then with Jean-Léon Gérôme at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He began exhibiting at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1881, just a year after beginning his studies with Gérôme.
Iin the winter of 1884-85 he traveled to Egypt with his friend, Ludwig Deutsch, an Austrian painter who was also living in Paris. Undoubtedly Gérôme encouraged the trip. Von Ferraris and Deutsch spent a productive winter in Cairo, returning to Paris with a wealth of drawings, oil sketches and possibly photographs.
By the late 1880s, von Ferraris had set up a studio with another Orientalist painter, Charles Wilda. He continued to paint society portraits—a reliable source of income with wealthy clients. Von Ferraris exhibited many of his society portraits at the annual Salon.
His Orientalist paintings were regularly shown at the Salon throughout the late 1880s and early 1890s. Von Ferraris also won honorable mentions at both of the world fairs, the Exposition Universelle, in Paris in 1889 and 1900.
In 1893, he left Paris for Budapest, where he stayed for the next two years. By 1894, he left Budapest for Vienna, and began to exhibit his work in Berlin as well. Turn-of-the-century Vienna the Vienna Secession group (led by Gustave Klimt) was proclaiming that art should be free—especially from the stodgy, provincial thinking at the tradition-bound Künstlerhaus. Von Ferraris seems not only to have supported the ideas of the Secession reform group, but also to have become a member in 1898, shortly after it was founded.
He traveled frequently throughout the Middle East, but also exploring Palestine. Significantly, his reputation as a society portraitist continued to bring steady, financially rewarding work from international clients. He made several trips to New York City where he achieved a certain social status for having painted the portrait of John Davison Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil. More on Arthur Von Ferraris
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