Chassériau witnessed this scene and sketched it in his notebook during a trip to Algeria in 1846. From the ancient town of Constantine he wrote, "I have seen some highly curious things: primitive and overwhelming, touching and singular. At Constantine, which is high up in some enormous mountains, one sees the Arab people and the Jewish people [living] as they were at the beginning of time." The Jewish women of North Africa were especially attractive subjects for European painters because they did not wear veils.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Thre_Chassériau 1851
P. Christofle, Paris (by 1893–1931); Georges Lefébure (in 1931); Rex Ingram, Hollywood and Nice (in 1933); sale, Sotheby's, Los Angeles, March 12, 1979, no. 57, as "Deux juives de Constantine bercant un enfant"; Joseph Tanenbaum, Toronto (by 1982–90); lent to the Art Gallery of Ontario during the 1980s; sale, Sotheby's, New York, October 23, 1990, no. 38, bought in; sold to Stair Sainty); [Stair Sainty Matthiesen, New York, 1990–96; sold to MMA]
Paris. Galeries Durand-Ruel. "Les Peintures orientalistes français. 4e exposition. Exposition rétrospective, Chassériau (Théodore) (1819–1856)," February 16–March 13, 1897, no. 9 (as "Deux femmes juives de Constantine berçant un enfant," lent by M. Christofle).
Paris. location unknown. "Exposition coloniale internationale de Paris," May–November 1931, unnumbered cat. (as "Deux femmes juives de Constantine berçant un enfant," lent by M. Georges Lefébure).
Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Éxposition Chassériau, 1819–1856," 1933, no. 59 (as "Juives de Constantine berçant un enfant," lent by Rex Ingram, Nice).
Rochester, N.Y. Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. "Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting 1800–1880," August 27–October 17, 1982, no. 10 (as "Two Jewish Women of Constantine, Algeria Rocking a Cradle," lent by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Tanenbaum, Toronto).
Neuberger Museum, State University of New York at Purchase. "Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting 1800–1880," November 14–December 23, 1982, no. 10.
New York. Stair Sainty Gallery. "Eighty Years of French Painting: From Louis XVI to the Second Republic," Autumn 1991, no. 20 (as "Two Young Jewish Girls from Constantine Rocking a Child").
London. Matthiesen Fine Art. "Eighty Years of French Painting: From Louis XVI to the Second Republic," Autumn 1991, no. 20.
Paris. Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. "Chassériau: Un autre romantisme," February 26–May 27, 2002, no. 154 (as "Juives de Constantine berçant un enfant").
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg. "Chassériau: Un autre romantisme," June 19–September 21, 2002, no. 154.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856): The Unknown Romantic," October 22, 2002–January 5, 2003, no. 154.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 35.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Tokyo. National Museum of Western Art. "Théodore Chassériau: Parfum exotique," February 28–May 28, 2017, no. 71.
Valbert Chevillard. Un peintre romantique: Théodore Chassériau. Paris, 1893, p. 284, no. 118, calls it "Deux femmes juives de Constantine berçant un enfant" and places it in the collection of M. P. Christofle.
Léandre Vaillat. "Chassériau." L'Art et les artistes 5 (1907), ill. p. 181.
Jean Laran inChassériau. Paris, 1911, pp. 83–85, no. 34, fig. xxxiv.
Léandre Vaillat. "L'Oeuvre de Théodore Chassériau." Les Arts no. 140 (August 1913), p. 22.
Raymond Escholier. "L'Orientalisme de Chassériau." Gazette des beaux-arts, 5th ser., 3 (1921), pp. 99, 102, ill., refers to the cradle as a "Moses basket".
Lloyd Goodrich. "Theodore Chassériau." The Arts 14 (August 1928), ill. p. 91, calls it "Jewesses of Constantine Rocking a Child".
Henri Focillon. "Chassériau ou les deux romantismes." Le Romantisme et l'art. Paris, 1928, p. 169.
Léonce Bénédite. Théodore Chassériau, sa vie et son oeuvre. Paris, , vol. 2, p. 298, pl. XXIV.
Marc Sandoz. Théodore Chassériau, 1819–1856: Catalogue raisonné des peintures et estampes. Paris, 1974, pp. 59, 348, no. 214, pl. CLXXX, lists it among works featuring Maghrebi women; calls it both "Femmes berçant un enfant" and "Deux jeunes juives de Constantine berçant un enfant"; mentions a related sketch with only one woman (Musée du Louvre, Paris).
Donald A. Rosenthal. Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting 1800–1880. Exh. cat., Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. Rochester, N.Y., 1982, pp. 59–61, 161, no. 10, ill. (color, reversed), calls it "a small picture of domestic life".
Lynne Thornton. Les Orientalistes: Peintres voyageurs, 1828–1908. Paris, 1983, p. 74, ill. (color), comments that Chassériau's 1846 visit to Kabylia inspired melancholic domestic scenes such as this one.
Bruno Foucart. Le renouveau de la peinture religieuse en France (1800–1860). Paris, 1987, p. 322.
Louis-Antoine Prat. Inventaire général des dessins école française: Dessins de Théodore Chassériau. Paris, 1988, vol. 1, p. 281, under no. 607, ill., illustrates it in connection with the 1846 preparatory sketch in the Louvre which Chassériau made from life in Algeria.
Eighty Years of French Painting: From Louis XVI to the Second Republic. Exh. cat., Stair Sainty Gallery. New York, 1991, pp. 62–65, no. 20, ill. (color), notes that it is the largest of the artist's orientalist interiors, with the exception of "Interior of a Harem" (1854; Musée des beaux-arts, Strasbourg), and considers it the most fully-developed of the compositions.
Gary Tinterow in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1996–1997." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 55 (Fall 1997), pp. 46–47, ill. (color).
Nineteenth Century European Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours. Sotheby's, London. June 11, 1997, p. 38, under no. 25, discusses a watercolor version of this composition, dated 1846, which was commissioned by the Orléans family as part of a wedding album; notes that both the watercolor and our painting were based on the Louvre drawing.
Christine Peltre. Théodore Chassériau. Paris, 2001, p. 135, fig. 151 (color), calls it "Scène dans le quartier juif de Constantine".
Peter Benson Miller in Stéphane Guégan et al. Théodore Chassériau (1819–1856): The Unknown Romantic. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2002, pp. 252–54, no. 154, ill. (color) [French ed., "Chassériau, un autre romantisme," Paris, 2002].
Gary Tinterow inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 56, 192–93, no. 35, ill. (color and black and white).
Megumi Jingaoka et al. Théodore Chassériau: Parfum exotique. Ed. Megumi Jingaoka. Exh. cat., National Museum of Western Art. Tokyo, 2017, pp. 26, 178, 256, no. 71, ill. p. 179 (color).
Artist: Théodore Chassériau (French, Le Limon, Saint-Domingue, West Indies 1819–1856 Paris)Date: 1851Medium: Conté crayon, with touches of white chalk, on wove paperAccession: 2008.538.23On view in:Not on view
Artist: Théodore Chassériau (French, Le Limon, Saint-Domingue, West Indies 1819–1856 Paris)Date: ca. 1837–38Medium: Brush, ink and gray wash, heightened with white over graphite on beige laid paperAccession: 1975.131.94On view in:Not on view
Artist: Théodore Chassériau (French, Le Limon, Saint-Domingue, West Indies 1819–1856 Paris)Date: ca. 1846Medium: Watercolor over graphite on wove paper (trimmed and laid down on blue wove paper)Accession: 64.188On view in:Not on view