Fredrick Arthur Bridgman (American, 1847-1928), Arab Street Scene, oil on canvas, c. 1880, 19″ x 23″
Bridgman was America’s preeminent Orientalist painter. He was born in Alabama, then moved north to Boston, and at one point was enrolled in art school in Brooklyn, New York. In 1866, he moved to Paris, France, and a year later entered the studio of the noted French Orientalist painter, Jean Léon Gérôme. Bridgman’s painting style was greatly influenced by Gérôme and he is often referred to as “the American Gérôme.”
Bridgman, like so many 19th century artists, decided to venture outside of their familiar environment and explore more exotic lands. He traveled through Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, and became fascinated by the life and light in these foreign lands. An Arab Street Scene is an excellent example of Bridgman’s ability to capture the essence of daily life in the East.