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A desert scene following a battle in which, robed figures lift dead bodies of slain comrades away onto horses.

In the foreground at center, lying on the hard desert ground, are the bodies of four men dressed in robes and cloth headdresses. Two more slain bodies are seen at left, and two more at right. Behind them, a group of robed men work to lift the bodies of three more men onto waiting horses, as their riders look on. Two men at left, similarly dressed in robes, one riding and one helping to carry a body, are dark skinned, while the others are medium or medium dark skinned. A pale mountain ridge rises in the background in the glow of a setting sun.

Gallery Text

Chassériau composed this scene after spending two months in Algeria in 1846. Like Eugène Delacroix, whose work he admired, Chassériau drew artistic inspiration from his experiences in North Africa. Unlike the older painter, who produced numerous fictional illustrations after his travels in Morocco, Chassériau promoted the documentary portrayal of the “Orient.” Here, for example, he notes the brutality of the African battlefield — likely a reference to the violent clashes between Algeria’s Arab population and the French colonialists. Although he championed realistic representations, Chassériau here employs classical compositional strategies. He divides the scene into three distinct planes, placing a field of corpses in the foreground, a convoy of horsemen behind them, and a rugged landscape in the background. Draped in a chalky white robe evocative of the mountains beyond, the centrally positioned Arab rises above the rest of the scene, a figure of human courage and endurance.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Théodore Chassériau, French (Ste. Barbe de Samana, S. America 1819 - 1856 Paris)
Arab Horsemen Carrying Away Their Dead
Other Titles
Original Language Title: Cavaliers Arabes Enlevant Leurs Morts
Alternate Title: Arab Combat / Arab Horsemen Carrying Away their Dead after a Clash with the Spahis
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 2, Room 2120, European and American Art, 17th–19th century, The Lure of the East
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
168.9 x 251.8 cm (66 1/2 x 99 1/8 in.)
framed: 194.5 x 273.4 x 7.9 cm (76 9/16 x 107 5/8 x 3 1/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.l.: Th. Chasseriau 1850


Recorded Ownership History
Sold [through Vente Chassériau, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 16-17, 1857 no. 2]. Paul van Cuyck, Paris, France, sold [van Cuyck sale, Paris, 1866, no. 5]. Isaac Péreire, Paris, 1872, by descent (?); to Mme Péreire, Paris [1], sold; to Grenville Lindall Winthrop, New York, NY, 1934 [through Martin Birnbaum], bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.

[1] This painting is listed as for sale through Sandoz in Paris in February 1903.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art


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Publication History

  • L. de Geoffroy, "Le Salon de 1850", La Revue des Deux Mondes (March 1851)
  • Etienne-Jean Delécluze, "Salon de 1850", Journal des Débats (Paris, France, January 1851-March 1851)
  • Albert de La Fizeliére, Exposition Nationale, Salon de 1850-1851, Passard, Deflorenne (Paris, 1851)
  • Charles-Phillippe, Marquis de Chennevières-Pointel, Lettres sur l'art français, Imprimerie de Barbier (Argentan, France, 1851)
  • Albert de La Fizeliére, Salon, 1850 (Paris, France, December 1851)
  • Theophile Gautier, Salon, 1850-1851 (Paris, France, 1851)
  • Baschet, Chassériau (1854), no. 4
  • Charles Perrier, "Exposition Universelle des Beaux-Arts VII: La Peinture Française--Histoire, L'Artiste (July 1, 1855), vol. XV, p. 115
  • Theophile Gautier, Les Beaux-Arts en Europe, M. Lévy Frères (Paris, France, 1855), vol. I, chapter 19
  • Du Pays, Salon, 1855 (Paris, France, 1855)
  • Paul Mantz, Chassériau (1856), no. 4
  • Theophile Gautier, "Atelier de feu Théodore Chassériau", L'Artiste (March 15, 1857), series 6, 3, pp. 209-211
  • Valbert Chevillard, Un Peintre Romantique: Theodore Chasseriau (Paris, France, 1893), nos. 69, 85
  • Jean Laran, Chassériau, J. Gillequin & Cie (Paris, France, 1911), pp. 7, 12, 85-86; repr. as pl. 35
  • Vaillat, Chasseriau, Arthur (1913), p. 22; repr. p. 11
  • Paul Jamot, [Unidentified article], Revue de l'art ancien et moderne (February 1920), p. 76
  • Raymond Escholier, "L'Orientalism de Chasseriau", Gazette des Beaux-Arts (February 1921), series 5, 3, pp. 89-107, p. 106
  • Lloyd Goodrich, "Théodore Chassériau", The Arts (August 1928), 14, no. 2, pp. 60-100, p. 85, repr. p. 88
  • Jean Alazard, "Les Peintres de l'Algerie au XIxe siècle", Gazette des Beaux-Arts (March 1930), series 6, 3, pp. 370-387, p. 376
  • Exposition du centenaire de la conquête de l'Algérie, 1830-1930, exh. cat., Petit Palais, Paris (Paris, France, 1930), repr. in sepia between pps 72-73. no. 99
  • Léonce Bénédite, Théodore Chassériau, sa vie et son oeuvre, Braun et Cie (Paris, France, 1931), repr. vol. II, pl. LVII, facing p. 514
  • Marc Sandoz, Chasseriau (1968), pp. 186-187
  • Marc Sandoz, Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856: catalogue raisonné des peintures et estampes, Arts et Metiers Graphiques (Paris, France, 1974), no. 174, pp. 316 - 317, repr. in b/w as pl. CLIII
  • Louis-Antoine Prat, Dessins de Théodore Chassériau : 1819-1856, Editions de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 1988), pp. 275-278, repr.; nos. 682, 1846, 2001, 2032, 2248, 2250, 2257, AUXIII
  • Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 102; repr. as no. 283
  • Christine Peltre, Théodore Chassériau, Gallimard (Paris, 2001), repr. pp. 144-145 as fig. 163
  • Chikashi Kitazaki and Mina Oya, ed., Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art (Ueno, 2002), pp. 96-97, cat. #15, color repr.
  • Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New York, 2003), no. 7, pp. 58-60, repr. in color
  • Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), no. 7, pp. 66-68, repr. in color

Exhibition History

  • Annual Exhibition, 1850-1851, Palais National, Paris, 12/30/1850 - 01/31/1851
  • Annual Exhibition, 1851, Galerie de la Société des Amis des Arts, Bordeaux, 11/15/1851 - 12/31/1851
  • Exposition Nationale Coloniale, [Unknown venue, Marseille], Marseille, 01/01/1906 - 12/31/1906
  • Exposition du Centenaire de la Conquête de l'Algerie, 1830-1930, Petit Palais, Paris, Paris, 05/01/1930 - 06/30/1930
  • Expostion Chassériau, 1819-1856, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, 01/01/1933 - 12/31/1933
  • Between Reality and Dreams: Nineteenth Century British and French Art from the Winthrop Collection of the Fogg Art Museum, National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 09/14/2002 - 12/08/2002
  • A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, 03/15/2003 - 05/26/2003; National Gallery, London, 06/25/2003 - 09/14/2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/23/2003 - 01/25/2004
  • For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004
  • 32Q: 2120 19th Century, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Related Works

Verification Level

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