Godefroy de Hagemann (1820 – 1877)
Oil on canvas, signed
33in x 25in (84cm x 63cm)
Godefroy de Hagemann was born in Naples, Italy in 1820. He had a French father and an Italian mother. His parents encouraged him to pursue a formal art education and he became a pupil of Filippo Palizzi at the Academy of Naples. The French genre painters influenced Palizzi and he influenced De Hagemann to exhibit in Nantes and subsequently at the Paris Salon. De Hagemann received recognition for his paintings of Arab subject matter in 1872, subsequently he set up residence in Cairo and became friends with the important Englishman John Frederick Lewis. With Lewis’ influence, he painted many Cairo subjects, notably the souks and genre scenes of this great capital city.
De Haermann decided to return to a Paris studio, painting the landscapes of Versailles and Fontainebleau. De Hagermann was most famous for his orientalist subjects, which gained him many patrons and clients due to the ongoing interest in international affairs and also the French involvement in the Suez Canal, which opened in 1869.
The Cairo Souk is painted in a light colour key reflecting the vibrant colours of the whitewashed walls and the colourful fabrics of the merchants selling clothes at their stalls. The red sandstone mosque to the left of the souk with its towering minaret gives depth and added pink hues, which enriches the pastiche of colour. The many figures add vibrancy and life and animation to the painting and are typical of this important orientalist artist.
Godefroy de Hagemann’s paintings are in the French museums of Paris, Nantes, Chartres and the Museum of Beaux Arts, Dijon.
The Cairo Souk we consider to be one of his most important and colourful paintings.