Paris 1845 – Paris 1902
Evening on the Terrace (Morocco)
Oil on canvas
123 x 198.5 cm
Gift of Lord Strathcona and family, inv. 1927.243
Typical for the Orientalist painter, Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant’s studio in Paris was like an Eastern bazaar, crammed with rugs, caftans, weapons and turbans brought back from his journeys to Spain and the Moroccan sultanate. Working from the sketches he had made on the spot, the artist recreated that inaccessible world of Muslim women seeking cooler air on their terraces at the end of the day. Among his different, dreamed-of Orients was the Egypt of the Pharaohs, and the seated figure has the hieratic pose of the Colossi of Memnon. At the Académie Julian in Paris, he taught many American and Canadian artists (including Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté), and so exerted a certain influence on artistic taste in North America. His powerful compositions were sought by North American collectors in his lifetime, and that is how the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts acquired two of his famous paintings, the other being The Day after a Victory at the Alhambra.