Charles-Théodore Frère

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Biography of Charles-Théodore Frère ( 1814-1888 )

Charles-Théodore Frère was born in 1814 in Paris. A student of Jules Cogniet and Camille Roqueplan at the Paris Beaux-Arts Academy, Théodore Frère started exhibiting at the Salon in 1834. After having exhibited his first orientalist paintings, he started a long journey visiting Malta, Greece and the Middle-East

He settled in Algiers in 1836, then in Constantantine from 1837 to 1839, and painted eagerly oriental architectures and landscapes, mosques, bazars and oriental café scenes.

He was among the very few French artists having depicted Jerusalem, Beyruth, Palmyre and Damas. From 1839, (« Views of Algiers ») to 1850, he exhibited regularly at the French Artists Salon. All his works were valuable testimonies of the many years he spent in Algeria : "A view of the mosque Sidi Abd-Er-Raham", "A view of Bab-Azoun", "Gardens inside the Casbah in Algiers", "the Mitidja plain".

In 1853, he opened a studio in Cairo and became a painter of the court. The Viceroy of Egypt raised him to the rank of bey. The artist was then promoted officer of the Order of the Medjidié of the Ottoman Empire. In 1869, Frère accompanied the Empress Eugenie at the inauguration of the Suez Canal with other orientalist painters like Narcisse Berchere, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Eugene Fromentin and Tournemine.

He exhibited at the Universal Exhibitions in 1855, 1867 and 1878. The French State bought his painting « Felfela Mountains » (Constantine). He sent works to the Salon until 1887. Most of them were painted on small size wood pannels, and revealed, as the French poet Theophile Gautier said, the artist’s lengthy acquaintance with those countries of « gold, silver and azur ».

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