Musée d'Orsay: Alexandre Gabriel Decamps Turkish merchant

Alexandre Gabriel Decamps
Turkish merchant

Turkish merchant smoking in his shop
Alexandre Gabriel Decamps (1803-1860)
Turkish merchant smoking in his shop
Oil on canvas
H. 36; W. 28 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Marchand turc fumant dans sa boutique [Turkish merchant smoking in his shop]

Street scenes were easily accessible to painters on their travels, and Decamps takes the opportunity here to capture this picturesque, small shop filled with objects. In doing so, he also produces an original study of colour and light based on this anecdotal view of daily life in Turkey.
The scene shows a man alone, sitting cross-legged at the back of his shop, the embodiment of oriental calm. Baudelaire described Decamps' style thus: "No one studied the effects of atmosphere with such care. The most bizarre and unlikely interplay of shade and light pleased him the most […] The only reproach […] that one could make was that he was too concerned with depicting the substance of objects".

The influence of Rembrandt is sometimes mentioned when referring to the painter's rendering of light, and to his technique of using thick impasto. Furthermore, Decamps had a strong influence on Diaz de la Peña, Monticelli, Cézanne and even Van Gogh.