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Outside a Café

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Outside a Café About 1868

Not on display

This painting is uncharacteristic of Maris, both in subject and in the style it has been painted. The scene shows three men wearing turbans and two younger boys outside a café, where the blazing sunshine has created strong areas of light and shade. The three men hold long smoking pipes (‘hookahs’ in Arabic), and rest on a crumbling wall. It was almost certainly made during the years he spent in Paris, where the art dealers Goupil et Cie. commissioned Maris to copy works by some of their most prominent artists, such as Jean-Léon Gérôme and Hippolyte Bellangé. This painting’s orientalist theme and precise detail show the influence of Gérôme, but it might have been copied from a photograph. It has a sharpness and precision that is not normally associated with Maris’s style of painting.

Glossary Open


When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.


Orientalism in western art is the study and depiction of Near-Eastern societies, cultures, and peoples. It can also refer to the imitation of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists. Interest in the Orient flourished in the nineteenth century, and attracted painters from across Europe. This was partly aided by Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign, which had opened up the area and provided greater opportunities for travel. The Near East provided a rich array of subject matter for artists and was generally viewed as exotic; it allowed them to depict erotic scenes such as harems, but also led to a review of how biblical scenes were depicted. More artists began to interpret biblical stories with regard to their original setting.

Commission, Orientalism


  • Acc. No. NG 1052
  • Medium Paint on paper, laid down on mahogany panel
  • Size 28.00 x 21.50 cm (framed: 47.00 x 53.30 x 11.40 cm)
  • Credit Bequest of Hugh A. Laird 1911