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Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant

Evening on the Terrace (Morocco)


Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant
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


Western Art

Benjamin-Constant’s studio in Paris was an Eastern bazaar, crammed with rugs, caftans, weapons and turbans brought back from his journeys to Spain and the Moroccan sultanate. This Orientalist painter recalled his journey to Tangiers: “On arriving, I only intended to stay a month and now I have spent two years here.” Working from the sketches he had made on the spot, Benjamin-Constant 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 colossus of Memnon.

At the Académie Julian in Paris, he taught many American and Canadian artists (including Suzor-Coté), and so exerted a certain influence on artistic taste in North America. His powerful compositions became so popular that they were sought after by North American collectors during 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.

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