Orientalist African Hunter Leaning on His Shield
Black Forest, School Switzerland 19th century
This is an exceptionally beautiful and exceptionally rare wood carving of an African ("Nubian") warrior. This fantastic piece marries the traditions of the finest Black Forest wood carvings from Switzerland with the Continental artistic movement of Orientalism that was much en vogue from the early 19th century into the 20th century.
Orientalism, as it is known today, was begun after Napoleon's unsuccessful invasion of Syria and Egypt in 1798-1801. His travels, stories and images that were shared throughout Europe stimulated great public fascination and admiration (as well as a coincident European ethnocentric view) of exotic and far-off cultures. The richly described imagery of the Near East, Middle East and North African captured the fantasies of the average Parisian and Londoner like nothing else before it.
Human figures are infrequently seen in the Black Forest genre and we have yet to find a comparison to this marvelous and lovingly crafted warrior who stands smiling, adorned with animal skins, weapons and his shield. The execution is charming and finely executed.