Arabs Crossing the Desert, 1870
Oil on canvas, 16.22 x 22.05 inches [41.2 x 56 cm]
In the Arabs Crossing the Desert, we have the stifling heat, the pitiless glare, the interminable wastes of the wilderness so characteristic for Gerome paintings; but this time its monotony is relieved by vivid bits of color and glint of steel, for the tribe of Abou-ben-Adhem has broken camp and is marching across the trackless plain, guided by that strange instinct which rarely betrays the ever wandering Bedouin. The white-bearded patriarch and chief, armed to the teeth and mounted on a thoroughbred, gazes steadily forward as he paces over the shifting sands. His escort ride at his side, their faces sheltered from the heat by the folds of their burnous, but their keen eyes sweeping the horizon with incessant vigilance. To the left, several white-robed figures sway to and fro on their lurching dromedaries, but the greater number march vigorously on foot, seemingly undisturbed by the clouds of dust through which their forms are hazily outlined. This painting of Gerome - Arabs Crossing the Desert is full of life and motion, and the atmospheric effects fully equal the faultless drawing.