Ludwig Deutsch (1855-1935) was a noted Orientalist artist in Paris, with the vast majority of his works being reproduced in his Paris studio. Following his visits to Egypt and the Middle East, Deutsch chose to limit his output to Near Eastern subjects and was highly regarded as one of the premier Orientalist painters of his time.
The Palace Guard depicts in exquisite detail a descendant of the ancient Nubian kingdom that once ruled much of Northern Africa. The guard keeps watch over the entrance to the Royal sanctuary, providing a formidable barrier to the rooms behind the doors which few Westerners were able to access. In the late 19th century Nubian warriors were revered for their heritage as noble warriors, and were commonly depicted in Orientalist artworks.
Painted with a striking realism, the detailing of the brushwork only serves to enhance the paintings photorealism. By using the light to artfully touch the silk cape, and gold and brass armour, it also catches the whites of the guards eyes. This assists with humanising the figure with a slightly quizzical element to his expression, and also serves to convey the nobility, strength and grace that were all required of a palace guard.
This painting has not been seen in public since 1937 when it was purchased by the father of the present owner of The Coolidge Galleries.
Ludwig Deutsch was born in Vienna in 1855 into a wealthy Jewish family. Developing a passion for art in his youth, he went on to study at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts until 1875, and following the completion of his studies, he moved to Paris. Deutsch made friends with other artists of the time including Rudolf Ernst who became a lifelong friend, and it was friendships such as this through which he developed his interest in Orientalist art.
Deutsch's earliest Orientalist subjects appeared as early as 1881, however his first recorded trips to Egypt and the Middle East were in 1885, 1890 and 1898. Like many contemporary artists of the time, he found inspiration for his works in the colours, customs and scenery of the places he visited, and collected many objects such as furniture, tiles, and costumes which he would use in his later artworks, including The Palace Guard.
The Scribe, Ludwig Deutsch, 1911