Henrik August Ankarcrona (1831-1917)

Henrik August Ankarcrona - Arab Caravan

Arab Caravan

Oil on canvas

21 x 35 in. (54 x 90 cm)

Signed and dated 72

Ankarcrona was born at Schonen on the 14th September 1831. He was born into a military family and it was no surprise that he enlisted at the Military Academy in Paris. He was a talented painter and decided to combine his army career with that of a painter specialising in Middle Eastern genre scene paintings. He was promoted to the grade of Colonel in 1892.His involvement with the North Africa, around Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco meant much demand for his paintings and he became an official painter recording many battle scenes and military campaigns.

He became the Governor of the Chateau of Gripsholm before he became the Commander Officer for the campaign in Morocco in 1895 for the service of France. He recorded many military sorties and then went to Spain to help with the unrest then returning to North Africa before finally going to Sudan where he died in 1917.His work can be seen in the museum in Gotenberg, Stockholm and Paris.

The painting is dated 72 (1872) when Ankarcrona was 42 years of age, in all probability he had recorded and painted the painting in Algeria, it illustrates the French military cavalry escorting an Arab caravan trainwith the Arab tribes possessions packed on the camels. The outriders illustrate the cavalry of Algerian-French army and on the left hand side of the picture a large contingent of Algerian Arab cavalry distinguished by their red flowing capes. In effect the Caravan train is being guarded and supervised by the French military, in the central part of the painting a shepherd and his flock are part of the caravan, this would provide fresh meat on a long journey, whichwould have taken a considerable period of time. It is interesting that the signature is very bold and because of the size of the painting we can safely assume that Ankarcrona would consider it was one of his most important paintings. The subject of his paintings was very much in demand in the colonization of North Africa by France in the 19th century. Ankarcrona’s painting are now presently collected by Orientalist collectors and of course they are of enormous interest with anybody involved with the French military history of the 19th and 20th century.

His paintings are exhibited at the museums of Gothenburg “Caravan dans le desert”. Stockholm “Paysage avec figures”. He is fully recorded in page 344 volume 1 of Benezit.

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