The Night Patrol at Smyrna

Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps (French, Paris 1803–1860 Fontainebleau)

Oil on canvas
29 1/4 x 36 3/8 in. (74.3 x 92.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Bequest of Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, 1887
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    The present picture depicts Turkish military patrols making their rounds at Smyrna—now Izmir—which Decamps visited in 1828. It is a late variant of his first major Orientalist subject, exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1831 (now in the Wallace Collection, London). Decamps belonged to the first generation of French painters to popularize scenes of everyday life set in the Middle East.

    This painting belonged to the Metropolitan Museum's first president, John Taylor Johnston, until 1876, when it was purchased by Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, the Museum's first woman benefactor.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (lower right): DECAMPS.

  • Provenance

    Wertheimber, Paris (until 1861; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 9, 1861, no. 4, as "La Patrouille turque," for Fr 25,000 to Goldschmidt or Demidoff); Goldschmidt, Paris or Anatole Demidoff, Paris (from 1861); Bocquet, Paris (in 1869); [Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, until 1870; sold on March 28 for Fr 50,000 to George A. Lucas for Johnston]; John Taylor Johnston, New York (1870–76; his sale, Chickering Hall, New York, December 19, 20, 22, 1876, no. 142, as "The Turkish Patrol, Smyrna," for $8,350 to Wolfe); Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, New York (1876–d. 1887)

  • Exhibition History

    New Haven. Yale School of the Fine Arts. "Fifth Annual Exhibition of the Yale School of the Fine Arts," 1874, no. 35 (as "Turkish Patrol, Smyrna," lent by J. T. Johnston).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "New York Centennial Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Selected from the Private Art Galleries," June 23–October 11, 1876, no. 100 (as "The Turkish Patrol," lent by John Taylor Johnston, Esq.).

    Hartford. Wadsworth Atheneum. "The Romantic Circle: French Romantic Painting, Delacroix and his Contemporaries," October 15–November 30, 1952, no. 36.

    "Romantic Art, 1750–1900," October 1965–October 1966, no. 6.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Art of Imperial Turkey and Its European Echoes," November 17, 1973–March 3, 1974, no catalogue.

    Baltimore. Walters Art Gallery. "A Baltimorean in Paris: George A. Lucas, Art Agent, 1860–1909," January 28–March 11, 1979, unnumbered cat. (fig. 10).

    Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. "Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting 1800–1880," August 27–October 17, 1982, no. 19.

    Neuberger Museum, State University of New York at Purchase. "Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting 1800–1880," November 14–December 23, 1982, no. 19.

  • References

    Ph[ilippe]. Burty. "Mouvement des arts et de la curiosité: Vente de tableaux modernes." Gazette des beaux-arts 9 (March 15, 1861), p. 370, notes that this picture was purchased for Fr 25,000 at the Wertheimber sale; calls it a repetition of the version shown at the 1831 Salon (Wallace Collection, London); states that it was executed five years ago and compares it unfavorably to the original; quotes from a letter describing this painting written by Leaves de Conches [pseudonym for Félix Sébastien Feuillet de Conches; see Ref.].

    Marius Chaumelin. Decamps: Sa vie, son œuvre. Marseilles, 1861, p. 42, mistakenly lists the marquis of Hertford in the provenance, confusing this picture with that in the Wallace collection; states that J. Patterson bought it for Fr 26,230 at the Wertheimber sale [see Ex-colls, Ref. Moreau 1869]; identifies the figure on horseback as the cadji-bey, or chief of police, of Smyrna.

    baron Félix Sébastien Feuillet de Conches. Letter to Edwin Landseer. [1861] [excerpt published in Ref. Burty 1861, p. 370], describes this picture.

    Ernest Chesneau. La Peinture française au XIXe siècle: Les Chefs d'école. Paris, 1862, p. 208, mentions it as an example of Decamps's uninspired copies after his early paintings.

    Ad[olphe]. Moreau. Decamps et son œuvre. Paris, 1869, p. 203, calls it "La Patrouille Turque" and describes it as a "réminiscence" of the painting shown in the 1831 Salon (Wallace Collection); notes that it was bought by M. Goldschmidt at the Wertheimberg [sic] sale and is currently owned by M. Bocquet.

    George A. Lucas. Journal entries. March 21, 22, 24, and 28, 1870 [published in Lilian M. C. Randall, ed., "The Diary of George A. Lucas: An American Art Agent in Paris, 1857–1909," Princeton, 1979, vol. 2, pp. 319–20], records his transactions with the Galerie Georges Petit and Johnston over the sale of this painting, originally requesting Fr 50,000 for the Decamps and eventually selling it to Johnston, together with works by Troyon and Dupre, for Fr 73,000 total on March 28, 1870 [see Ex-colls].

    John F. Weir. Letter to J. Alden Weir. June 13, 1874 [published in Dorothy Weir Young, "The Life & Letters of J. Alden Weir," New Haven, 1960, p. 45], states that this painting from the Johnston collection is currently in his studio, among other works to be shown in Exh. New Haven 1874.

    The Art Treasures of America. reprint, 1977. New York, 1879, vol. 1, pp. 126, 134, as "The Night-Watch in Smyrna"; calls it "unexcelled for quality among the specimens of Decamps in America"; illustrates (on p. 119) the engraving after the original version (Wallace Collection).

    Cicerone. "Private Galleries: Collection of Miss Catharine L. Wolfe." Art Amateur 2 (March 1880), p. 76, as "The Night-Watch at Smyrna".

    Charles Clément. Decamps. Paris, [1886], pp. 40, 42, 87, calls it "Patrouille à Smyrne"; compares it unfavorably to the original version, calling its execution "à la fois violent et fatigué".

    "Gallery and Studio: The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Art Amateur 18 (December 1887), p. 7, calls it "The Night Patrol, Cairo" and praises its "dash and... beauty of coloring for which the painter is famous".

    Montezuma [Montague Marks]. "My Note Book." Art Amateur 16 (May 1887), p. 122.

    "The Wolfe Pictures." New York Times (November 7, 1887), p. 4.

    Mrs. Schuyler van Rensselaer. "Fine Arts: Gifts to the Metropolitan Museum." Independent 39 (April 21, 1887), p. 6.

    Mrs. Schuyler van Rensselaer. "The Wolfe Collection. News and Notes." Independent 39 (December 1, 1887), p. 7, calls it either a smaller replica of, or an original study for, the painting in the Wallace Collection; criticizes the execution of the horse, but adds that "in some inexplicable way, [Decamps] has put into him more life and fire, more real 'go' than Meissonier has accomplished in any of the impossibly drawn horses of his 'Friedland' (MMA 87.20.1)".

    Clarence Cook. Art and Artists of Our Time. New York, 1888, vol. 1, pp. lxx–lxxi, as "The Turkish Patrol".

    Walter Rowlands. "The Miss Wolfe Collection." Art Journal, n.s., (January 1889), p. 13, considers it the finest painting in the Wolfe collection.

    "Notes for Collectors." Art Amateur 24 (February 1891), p. 60, erroneously states that this is the original painting, and a replica of it was sold in Paris in 1861.

    Sophia Antoinette Walker. "Fine Arts: The Painting Master in the Wolfe Collection." Independent 46 (August 2, 1894), p. 12, as "The Night Patrol".

    "The Metropolitan Museum of Art—The French Painters." New York Times (May 22, 1895), p. 4.

    William Sharp. "The Art Treasures of America (Concluded.)." Living Age, 7th ser., 1 (December 3, 1898), p. 604.

    Pierre du Colombier. Decamps. Paris, 1928, p. 21.

    Joseph C. Sloane. French Painting Between the Past and the Present: Artists, Critics, and Traditions, from 1848 to 1870. [reprint 1973]. Princeton, 1951, p. 117 n. 36, expresses uncertainty over whether "La Patrouille turque" exhibited in the 1831 Salon is the MMA or Wallace Collection painting.

    C. C. Cunningham. The Romantic Circle: French Romantic Painting, Delacroix and his Contemporaries. Exh. cat., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Hartford, 1952, pp. 8, 15, no. 36, pl. VIII.

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. "XIX Century." French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2, New York, 1966, pp. 32–33, ill., note that it is a reduced replica of the Wallace Collection painting, with important differences, especially in the background architecture; surmise that it was painted at the end of the artist's life.

    Anne Poulet in "Turquerie." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 26 (January 1968), p. 237, fig. 66.

    Dewey F. Mosby Harvard University. Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, 1803–1860. New York, 1977, vol. 1, p. 234; vol. 2, pp. 381, 466, 493, no. 203, pl. 106, dates it about 1854.

    Joseph J. Rishel in Richard Ormond. Sir Edwin Landseer. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1981, p. 39 n. 59, suggests that Landseer may have been interested in the work of Decamps because of a "rather enigmatic letter" to Landseer from the dealer Leaves de Conches [see Ref. Conches 1861].

    Donald A. Rosenthal. Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting 1800–1880. Exh. cat., Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. Rochester, N.Y., 1982, pp. 37, 97, 162, no. 19, fig. 27, dates it about 1854.

    John Ingamells. "French Nineteenth Century." The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Pictures. 2, London, 1986, p. 69, calls it a "close variant [of the Wallace collection picture] with more elaborate architecture".

    Klaus H. Kiefer. "Decamps' 'Türkische Patrouille'—Heines Bild vom Orient." Heine-Jahrbuch 35 (1996), pp. 2, 19 nn. 11–12, p. 21 nn. 53–54, 63, fig. 1, dates it 1854.

    Rebecca A. Rabinow. "Catharine Lorillard Wolfe: The First Woman Benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum." Apollo 147 (March 1998), pp. 51, 54 n. 24, notes that Wolfe paid $8,350 for this painting at Johnston's sale.

  • Notes

    The original version of this painting (Wallace Collection, London) was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1831and lithographed that year for the periodical "L'Artiste" (vol. 1, sér. 1, 1831, opp. p. 524).

    When the MMA painting was sold as part of the Wertheimber collection, in 1861, the critic Philippe Burty [Ref. 1861] stated that it was about five years old.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History