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John Lewis Shonborn
Cabane de l'ermite algérien de M'Sila" (Hut of Algerian Hermit of M’Sila)



"Cabane de l'ermite algérien de M'Sila" "Cabane de l'ermite algérien de M'Sila"  ("Hut of Algerian Hermit of M’sila, Algeria") French/American Orientalist Impressionist Oil on Artist’s Panel, c. 1885 John Lewis Shonborn (1852-1931) American/ French  Orientalist painter John Lewis Shonborn emigrated from Hungary to Oxford, Iowa at a very early age.  He began by drawing the horses of the family farm, later attending attending veterinary school in a French commune of the Val-de-Marne, in Île-de-France . It is located in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, three kilometers from the capital, on the south bank of the Marne, particularly fond of scenes gender and horses.At the age of 20, he went to France attend painting courses in various studios, including that of the draftsman Charles Crauk at Amiens, where he met the painter Francis Tattegrain, and of Léon Bonnat.  Shonborn painted both in oil and watercolor. Shonborn eventually became seriously ill, becoming almost totally deaf and suffering a a serious eye condition that obliged him to spend several months each year in the Algerian sun.  Several of his works from Algeria were included in the posthumous retrospective held in Senlis, France in 1965. Shonborn began by painting scenes of country life, many in the Îsle-de-France, and especially in the region around Senlis and Montlėvèque.  He also excelled in painting animals; some of his pictures from Algeria are magnificent studies of Arab thoroughbreds in landscapes bathed in the warm light of Algeria. During his stays in Algeria, Schonborn depicted numerous landscapes and scenes of the daily life, often illustrating in particular, the occupations of young Arabs such as vendors and shepherds. M'Sila is a province of northern Algeria.  Its capital is also called M'sila.  Most of the region is semi-arid and undeveloped. "Cabane de l'ermite algérien de M'Sila" depicts the typical dwelling of an Algerian hermit holy-man, or "Marabout." It is rendered in an almost Impressionist fashion by John Lewis Shonborn, resulting in an Orientalist work of great beauty and sensitivity. The paintings of John Lewis Shonborn were exhibited to great popular acclaim in the Paris of the 1800’s.  His work was accepted by the famed Paris Salon, and exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1877, the Paris Salon of 1879 through 1881, 1883, 1885, 1887, 1890, 1894 and 1899. Shonborn’s paintings were praised in the noted reference, “American Art at the Nineteenth-Century Paris Salons.” The Orientalist Impressionist paintings of John Lewis Shonborn have been eagerly sought and collected for generations, in France, Europe, England and America. A few examples of the oil paintings of John Lewis Shonborn include:  "Encampement arabes," "Deux enfants, pêche" "Dans le sud de l'Algérie, Caravane" The paintings of John Lewis Shonborn have been offered by the world’s leading auction houses, including Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Bonhams and many others. Just a few examples: "École Hongroise" sold for $43, 574  "Cavaliers d'une ville fortifiée brought" $16, 406 "Orientalism" is a term used by scholars in art history, literary, geography, and cultural studies for the depiction of Eastern, that is "Oriental,” cultures, including Middle Eastern, South Asian, African and East Asian cultures, done by writers, designers, and artists from the West. In particular, Orientalist painting depicting "the Middle East" was a genre of 19th-century Academic art. The literature of Western countries took a similar interest in Oriental themes. It is also used for the use of Asian styles in Western art, especially in architecture and the decorative arts.  The concept of “Orientalism,” that of the mystery and exoticism of foreign lands, especially North Africa, Egypt, the Nile, and the Middle East, was a touchstone of French painting in the 18th and 19th Centuries.  When Napoleon invaded and occupied Egypt in 1798, he brought with him not only soldiers, but also engineers, historians, and the leading intellectuals and artists of the day.  They found in Egypt a land of mystery, strangeness, opulence and exoticism.  The painters of the day, chiefly French, but also German, English and American, were delighted by the strange sights, sounds and smells and wasted no time in displaying their discoveries to a public at home who quickly became enamored with the concepts of “Orientalism.”  Architecture, decorative tastes, furniture and even clothing styles were quickly influenced in France, and to a lesser extent, in England and America.  There were many French, European, English and even American painters who spent time in North Africa during the height of this craze for all things exotic.  Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863);  Leon Belly (1827-1877);  Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904);  Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928); Paul Désiré Trouillebert (1829-1900); John Singer Sargent (1856-1925); Edwin Lord Weeks (1849-1903);  Carl Haag (1820-1915); Edouard Debat-Ponsan (1847-1913); Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps (1803-1860), etc., were just a few of those influenced by the Orientalist Movement.  The movement waned a bit at the beginning of the 20th Century, but still many painters continued to remain fascinated, such as August Renoir, Henri Matisse, etc.  In recent times, Orientalist paintings have been rediscovered by collectors and enthusiasts worldwide, and these exotic works are increasingly and avidly sought.  Orientalist paintings are frequently featured at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, and are widely displayed at the Louve, the Metropolitan Museum, and leading institutions worldwide. Since the publication of Edward Said's "Orientalism" in 1978, much academic discourse has used the term "Orientalism" in a more restricted sense, to characterize a perceived patronizing Western attitude towards Eastern societies that is used to justify Western imperialism. In Said's analysis, the West essentializes these societies as static and undeveloped—thereby fabricating a view of Oriental culture that can be studied, depicted, and reproduced. Implicit in this fabrication, writes Said, is the idea that Western society is developed, rational, flexible, and superior, while Oriental societies embody the opposite values. "Cabane de l'ermite algérien de M'Sila" "Cabane de l'ermite algérien de M'Sila" measures 22 inches x 19 inches in original antique gilt frame, and 15 inches x 11 inches unframed. Gilt frame is antique, and original to the painting. It is of the "Cadre cannaux" style, and most beautiful in its own right.


  • Artist
    John Lewis Shonborn (1852 - 1931, American French)
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  • Dimensions

    H 19 in. x W 22 in.

    H 48.26 cm x W 55.88 cm

  • Gallery location
    Arles, FR
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