Alberto Pasini

No artwork matches

Biography of Alberto Pasini ( 1826-1899 )

Alberto Pasini was one of the most famous Italian painters of the 19th century. He started his apprenticeship at the Beaux-Arts of Parma, under the supervision of Paolo Toschi. During his three learning years, Alberto Pasini specialized in landscapes painting and then mainly composed drawings and lithography.  

In 1851, the political situation of Italy pushed the young twenty years old Pasini to leave for Paris. There, he met Eugène Delacroix, Gabriel Decamps and many other painters from the Barbizon school.

During his first participation to the French Salon of Art in 1853, he exhibited a lithography named The evening that was soon to be noticed by Théodore Chassériau who offered him to join his studio. There, he reinforced his oil painting technique, and most importantly showed an eager interest for orientalist subjects. Then, in 1855, Chassériau proposed him to replace him in a journey in Persia along with French diplomat Prosper Bourée. The painter stayed there for two years and received numerous orders from the Shah.

Pasini was captivated and mesmerized by the warm lights, the colours full of shades and the clothing. He thus decided to continue his discovering of the East. He travelled to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Constantinople. His several journeys awaken a true passion for the East that will become in the course of time the core of his pictorial work. Pasini unrelentingly depicted picturesque scenes with a photographic accuracy. His works were very popular among the audience and his talent was praised by the critics. Some even compared him with the prominent orientalist artist Eugène Fromentin. 

Appointed by the French ambassador Prosper Bourée, Alberto Pasini went once again to Constantinople in 1867 and stayed there for nine months. Then, in 1869, the Sultan Abdul Aziz of Turkey commissioned four paintings, offering him the opportunity to remain in the country for a while.

Whilst being a traveller painter, he set up his studio in Paris. His participation in the French Salon of Art was successful and he received there a gold medal in 1878. Napoleon III honoured him with the Legion of Honour while king of Italy awarded him with the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus in 1879.

In the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war, plenty of Italians that were perceived as Prussia’s allies seemed to be no more welcomed in France. Alberto Pasino made no exception and in 1879 he purchased a small farm near Turin which soon became his refuge between his journeys in the East or in Spain. He still brought with him a horde of memories which allowed him to continue and create sublime works in his Cavretto studio.

This painting features the architectural style of the painter, for one can recognize a street of Cairo. The artist indeed drew his inspiration from the Ibn Tulun mosque, the most ancient one of Cairo. The building is also the most ancient Islamic monument of the country. Alberto Pasini depicts the spiral minaret which reminds the great mosque of Samara. Behind the mosque is the Saladin fortress, completed in 1857.

This fortress is one of the greatest monuments of the 19th century belonging to the Mameluk period style. The scene thus takes place in the Al-Khudayri Street, Cairo, in a slightly high area from the Sayda Zaineb district. In the foreground, one can see characters in a bustling little street, all dressed with traditional clothing. Horses and stallholders meddle in the scene. We can easily imagine a lively and noisy atmosphere, typical of Egypt at that time.

32 avenue Marceau
75008 Paris, France
Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm
Saturdays from 2 to 7 p.m.
NEWSLETTER: If you would like to receive our newsletter, please enter your email address: