Louis Comfort Tiffany (American, 1848–1933)
Oil on canvas
27 1/2 x 38 1/2 in. (69.9 x 97.8 cm)
Gift of Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, 1921 (21.170)
First exhibited at Snedecor's Gallery in New York in 1872, this painting highlights exotic subject matter popular during the late 1860s and early 1870s in both Europe and America. The composition closely resembles Jean-Léon Gérôme's The Snake Charmer (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts). Through his extensive travels, Tiffany became versed in Islamic art and architectural traditions. Architectural elements such as the broad white columns and the roofline would reappear in subsequent decades in interiors and buildings he helped design, including the Tiffany house (1885) at 72nd Street and Madison Avenue and Laurelton Hall (19025), his Long Island country estate. The painting illustrates Tiffany's great interest in color and light, and shows a scene of intriguea snake charmer playing to a gathered crowd in North Africa. Exhibited at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, the painting remained in Tiffany's personal collection and later hung at Laurelton Hall until 1921, when it was donated to the Metropolitan.