The Artwork of Jules Rabnnes
Jules Rabannes, born in 1869, was a nineteenth century artist in the Orientalist style. Orientalism is a word conceptualized by the theorist Edward Said, broadly encompassing the areas which today make up Northern Africa, Turkey and the Middle East. Orientalist Art, of which Julian Rabannes was a prolific student and contributor, is defined as a broad term which is Western Art inspired by the ethnic patterns of these regions and studies of its peoples and street scenes. The Oriental style can be seen very clearly in Jules Rabannes’ work, both in his watercolors and in his pastels on paper.
Jules Rabannes painted and drew everyday scenes from the Orient of souks, camels being used as transport and pack animals, of oasis and caravans, of market scenes and even of people strolling along the streets. Sometimes, a scene seems to have so fascinated him that he recreated it in multiple media, for example, his street scene set in Ghardaia, Algeria, dated 1903 has been rendered in charcoal, watercolors as well as gouache. He has even painted scenes which might have seemed mundane to the residents of the place itself for example, in his Scene de Marche, capturing the essence of a traditional market place of the East with a Donkey as the pack animal, with a woman covered modestly and the men looking on curiously. This kind of scenery would have fascinated his intended audience back then, as the interest in Orientalist Art was a direct result of the growing interest of the British and Parisians in the peoples and cultures of the Middle East and Northern Africa and the resultant art was avidly bought.
Another prominent feature of Jules Rabannes’ works are his portraits, mostly rendered in pastel on gouache. He seems to have had a fascination to capture the dress style of the people of the East because in the majority of his portraits he has captured not only the faces and expressions of his subjects but also what manner of dress they wore, their head coverings and their jewelry.
His style of drawing and painting was not similar to so many of his contemporaries as he did not paint and draw every detail exactly as he saw it. Rather, he seemed determined to capture the essence of the place, the outlines and the flow of dress and architecture and the vibrancy and heat of the places he saw.