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.