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Eugène Fromentin, 'The Banks of the Nile', 1874

Key facts
Full title The Banks of the Nile
Artist Eugène Fromentin
Artist dates 1820 - 1876
Date made 1874
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 54 × 78.7 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by Roland F. Knoedler to the Tate Gallery, 1920; transferred, 1956
Inventory number NG3511
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Banks of the Nile
Eugène Fromentin

Eugène Fromentin (1820–1876) was a French painter who specialised in scenes of life in North Africa. He travelled there several times during his career, storing up a stock of images that he could turn into pictures to satisfy the French taste for oriental subjects. The Banks of the Nile of 1874 was painted five years after he had visited Egypt to witness the opening of the Suez Canal.

It is a poetic image of river life: a gentle breeze pushes a felucca along while other small boats ply their trade and Arabs chat on the river bank. Fromentin gave this everyday scene a familiar air by using the techniques of Dutch Golden Age maritime painters such as Willem van de Velde, father and son, who had painted Dutch ships in moments of sunlit calm. Fromentin shows that the life of the river is the same the world over.

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