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Item Description:

Meditation in the Desert, 1887
oil on canvas
123 x 194 cm (48 1/2 x 76 3/8 in.)
signed lower left

Acquired by Ph. Lewisohn, New York, at the Kunsthandlung Wimmer exhibition-sale in Munich, 1887;
Private Collection, Connecticut, as of the 1920s-30s;
Thereafter in the family of the present owner

Kunsthandlung Wimmer, Munich, 1887;
Possibly: Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, St. Petersburg, 1889

Dr. Eckart Lingenauber and Dr. Olga Sugrobova-Roth, Franz Roubaud Catalogue raisonne, (Dusseldorf: Edition Libertas, 2012), no. 475, ill. p. 210
Chuyko, Vsemirnaya Illustratsia, (St. Petersburg, 1889), vol. 41, no. 1061, p. 363

Franz Roubaud was born in Odessa to a family of French merchants who had moved to Russia. In 1877, at the age of 21, Roubaud left for Munich to study under Carl von Piloty and Otto Seitz. In 1883 Roubaud was commissioned by the Russian government to travel through the Caucasus, and two years later he executed a series of history paintings for the Hall of Fame in Tbilisi. From 1908 to 1911 ,Roubaud taught as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. In 1913 he returned to Munich. Soon after, he entered the Bavarian Academy of Arts, under the guidance of the famous Polish battle painter Josef von Brandt.

Besides monumental history paintings, Roubaud also produced a number of works depicting the varied cultures and people of the Caucasus region. These artworks captured everyday activities such as hunting, travelling and resting during ones travels through the mountainous regions

It is after his return from the assignment that Roubaud would have completed Meditation in the Desert. This calm painting portrays a peaceful and very personal moment of reflection in the daily life of a traveler in the Central Asian desert. With his camel secured and resting, and with his shoes removed, the bare footed man initiates part of his daily prayer, Salat al-maghrib, performed just after sunset. His hands are raised upwards as he begins, and his elaborately decorated prayer rug is laid out on the ground, facing Mecca.

The Islamic calligraphy carved into the monumental frame of the present lot repeats the Moorish design of the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain, and reads There is no God but Allah.

This masterpiece painting was presented upon its completion in 1887 at the exhibition-sale Kunsthandlung Wimmer in Munich, where it was sold to Ph. Lewisohn from New York for 5,000 German Mark (which equals about 1,200 U.S. dollars in 1887 or 38,000 U.S. dollars at the present time).

It is likely, that the present lot was also exhibited at the Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in St. Petersburg in 1889, the exhibition of which was reviewed in several contemporary journals of the time, including specific mentions of the current lot.

Roubaud�s solo exhibition was dedicated to the life of the Caucasus and Central Asia, and consisted of fifteen works total. The exhibition review of the popular weekly Russian magazine World Illustrated (Vsemirnaya Illustratsia) described what is most likely the current lot as follows: �The painting titled Prayer in the Desert, depicts the Desert of Central Asia with a mountain range lit up by sunset light on the background. Right in front, we see a man who got down from his camel, unrolled the rug on the sand, took off his shoes and is praying with his hands raised to the sky. The painting has a specific mood, it reflects Middle Eastern poetry; and the landscape is executed, from the artistic point of view, immaculately�.



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