Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant (French, 1845–1902)
Seated Arabs, 1877
Signed and dated lower right: Benj. Constant 77
Oil on canvas, 9 x 13 in.
1997.41

Constant’s essentially Romantic vision of the Orient reflected the considerable influence of Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863), specifically his rich palette and loose brushwork. In 1866 Constant entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the following year became a student in Alexandre Cabanel’s (1823–1889) atelier. He toured the ancient Moorish cities of Spain in 1870, where he met the Orientalist Mariano Fortuny y Marsal (1838–1874). Inspired by Fortuny and Delacroix, Constant traveled to Morocco in 1872 in the company of the French ambassador and painter Georges Clairin (1843–1919). There he acquired numerous Islamic artifacts, rugs, and costumes, which appear in the many Orientalist paintings he exhibited at the Salon throughout the 1870s.