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Eugene Fromentin was born in La Rochelle, France, in October 1820. After he left school, he studied under the landscape painter Louis Cabat. Fromentin was one of the first European artists to depict Algeria, where he was able to visit at a rather young age, being able to see and register several elements of the country’s characteristics, both cultural and architectural.
His first great success was produced by the Gorges de la Chiffa, in Algeria and was exhibited at the Salon of 1847. Two years later, he received a medal of the second class. Among his most famous paintings are Arab Horsemen, Le Simoon, The Heron Hunt, and An Orientalist Chieftain on Horseback, to name only a few.
In 1852, accompanying an archeological mission, Fromentin would pay another visit to Algeria. There he executed several minute studies of the scenery and people habits, which later would become fully realized paintings, and with a keen accuracy that only comes with intimate knowledge. Fromentin’s artworks are not impressive by its artistic quality but as crucial to ethnological science for its historical and cultural accuracy.
Eugene Fromentin was also a writer, and arguably most remembered by his books than for his art production. His book, Dominique, published in 1862, was noteworthy due to its imaginative observations. Said book became one of the most remarkable fictions of the century. Other famous of Fromentin’s literary works are Artistic Visits or Simple Pilgrimages, A Summer in the Sahara, A Year in the Sahel.
Another highly important of Fromentin’s publications is The Old Masters of Belgium and Holland, or The Masters of Past Time, an in-depth analysis of the complexity of artworks by Old Masters, such as Rembrandt van Rijn and Paul Rubens. Fromentin was also one of the earliest art critics to explore the theme of The Old Masters from a more personal point of view.