Peder Mork Mønsted (Danish, 1859–1941)
Portrait of a Nubian, ca. 1886
Oil on panel, 9 1/4 x 7 1/2 in.
Signed and inscribed top right in Arabic: Peder Mønsted / Tunisia
An indomitable traveler, Mønsted visited many countries throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East painting works relating to his journeys. This sensitive portrait of a cloaked Nubian epitomizes the artist’s keen interest in ethnography. While many 19th-century travel books still described Arabs as ferocious and uncivilized, Mønsted conveyed a sense of strength and dignity in his subject. The flowing Arabic inscription, comprising his signature and the word “Tunisia,” echoes the tribal markings on the Nubian’s cheek and complements Mønsted’s subtle interplay of free brushwork and delicate color. He also painted a standing Nubian guard (1886, location unknown), which might indicate when this painting was created.