carpet menders

Carpet Menders by Rudolf Swoboda


Rudolf Swoboda (1859-1914) was an Austrian Orientalist painter who painted many of the ordinary people of India in a grouping of small (no more than eight inches high) paintings. These paintings are very detailed and full of color. Swoboda was trained by the well known Orientalist painter Leopold Carl Muller, with whom he traveled to Egypt in 1880.

pile of carpets

As an artist I am always intrigued to take a real close look at paintings. I love to see how each area in the fictional picture space is handled. Orientalist artist like Swoboda tended to document every minute detail they saw during their travels to the East. From the details in the architecture to the pile of rugs, it seems like everything had to be documented. 

Mending Carpets

The amount of pattern detail in this carpet  is amazing.  The artist even added the yarn the carpet mender is using and embellished the setting with a hookah and some sort of gourd vessel. Swoboda creates a setting in the painting where he want to draw the viewer in and hold our gaze as we go about exploring the many details of this painting. 


 The woman feeding doves is an interesting addition. She is obviously not part of the carpet menders who are going about their work. She is to the side of the painting and instead of being seated adds a vertical presence. My guess is that the artist needed to balance the busy activities on the right side of the painting, plus the very intensive reds, blues and golds, with the exact opposite. Large areas of black and white - a place where the eye can rest. 

red giweh shoes

Notice how the shoes point back towards the carpet menders. Nothing Swoboda paints is done without some clever calculation. We the viewers are being led to what we should look at even we gaze too long at the left side of the painting. When you put everything together this painting is truly a tour de force. One of these days I need to start tackling this painting by trying to copy it. I'll bet there is even more to be learned. 


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