Edwin Lord Weeks
1849-1903 • AmericanScene in Ispahan
Signed “E.L. Weeks” (lower left)
Oil on canvas
A lively market scene in the Persian city of Ispahan is depicted in this painting by American Orientalist artist Edwin Lord Weeks. The composition is rich with detail, with a man in traditional Persian dress riding a heavily-decorated camel amongst the market's wares, including shiny silver pots and pans, a favorite element for Weeks to paint. His meticulous consideration to the people, customs and landscape in his paintings has made them among the most desirable Orientalist compositions ever created.
Born in Boston to an affluent family of spice and tea merchants, Edwin Lord Weeks displayed interest in both painting and traveling early in his life. In the early-1870s, he moved to Paris to receive formal artistic training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Jean-Léon Gérôme. His application was delayed for some time, and he began studying in the studio of Léon Bonnat. By the time Weeks gained acceptance, he lost interest in the Academy and decided to decline the offer.
Weeks instead chose to indulge his passion for traveling abroad, setting his sights on the East, including locales in Africa and India previously closed off to Western travelers. One of his earliest paintings, dated 1872, depicting the port of Tangiers still survives from this period and appears to be one of the first of his works in the Orientalist style for which he became known. His presence in India coincided with the height of the British Raj during the 1880s, and Weeks captured the Victorian romance and splendor of Indian civilization. This fact was recognized when Weeks was invited to exhibit a large collection of his works at the Empire of India Exhibition held in London in 1895. He also exhibited frequently at the Paris Salon. When he returned to France in 1896, he was made Knight of the Legion d’honneur, solidifying his place as one of the city's most celebrated artists. Today, other examples of the artist's Orientalist works reside in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum
Canvas: 17 1/4" high x 21 1/4" wide
Frame: 30" high x 33 1/8" wide