Women of Algiers

Frederick Arthur Bridgman (American, 1847-1928)
signed 'F.A. Bridgeman'(lower left)
oil on canvas
21.5 x 25.5 in (54.5 x65 cm)

Here Bridgeman employs romantic shadow play along with authentic costume and architecture in order to dramatize and exoticism a quotidian street scape. Though the scene begs interpretation , its maidens remain mysterious beneath their beguiling robes. Loose brushwork and the emphasize on color suggests that Women of Algiers was painted during the later part of Bridgman's career. For it was at this time that he replaced his previously favored photo-realistic style with a looser technique more saturated with light and color. As one critic noted in 1899, "Mr. Bridgman now paints with a freer, juicier brush than he used some years ago, he has got almost entirely away from Girtme, he is now [sic] longer photographic, his color lacks unity and moderation, yet is often more ingeniously applied, and like so many of his fellows he is aiming for decorative effect"(Gallery and Studio: Frederick A. Bridgman's Recent Pictures, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 22 January 1899, p. 28 as cited in I.S. Fort, Frederick Arthur Bridgman and the American Fascination with the Exotic Near East, vol.I and II, PH. D. diss., City University of New York, 1990, p. 429) Women of Algiers represents a confluence of the various influences Bridgman's travels afforded, and captures simultaneously the stylistic departure that marked the pinnacle of his career.

(Source: Christie's New York Orientalist Art Catalogue, P. 50)
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