Otto von Faber du Faur (1828-1901)
Oil on canvas, signed and dated '83
80 x 125 cm.
Otto von Faber du Faur was a first-class military painter and one of the finest of the second generation of nineteenth century Orientalist painters. Born on 3rd June 1828 at Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, Germany, he was the son of another talented artist and military painter, General Christian Wilhelm von Faber du Faur (1780-1857), whose keenly observed detailed images of war and its aftermath were observed at first hand in the field of battle. Otto began his artistic training in his father's studio and furthered it in Munich under the military painter, August Alexander von Kotzebue (1815-89). He also studied in Paris undertzdolphe Yvon (1817-93), who in addition to military paintings executed portraits, historical, religious, and genre scenes. Like his father, Otto von Faber du Faur served in the army; he entered as an officer and was promoted to Captain at Württemberg. The year after he took part in the Russian campaign of 1866 he resigned from military service. And though he was subsequently involved in the 1870/71 Franco-German war it was only as an artistic observer.
Works from the 1870's included a number of historical scenes from the Russian wars such as 'Crossing Berezina' in the Luxembourg Museum and 'The Retreat of Napoleon I'. He painted a number of other military scenes such as 'French Cavalry Horses after the Battle of Sedan' (1872) as well as 'A First-Aid Post behind the French Line', 'General Von der Tann at Orléans' and 'Transportation of French Prisoners'. He won great acclaim at Stuttgart with two large scale works ' Kampf des Grenadierregiments Königin Olga im Park von Coeuilly am 30. 11.1870' and 'Angriff der Württemberger auf Champigny am 2.12.1870'. Large battle panoramas also included 'The Battle of Wörth' painted in association with others and in 1878 he completed a life-size canvas of the Crown Prince of Germany on Horseback.
From 1870 to 1873 Faber du Faur spent three years with Karl von Piloty (1826-86) at the Munich Akademie. Piloty, who in 1856 became a professor at the Akademie and in 1874 its director, was a highly influential teacher. He revived a highly developed technique of painting based on colour rather than drawing previously explored by the great Romantic and earlier Orientalist painter, Eugène Delacroix. Through Piloty, Faber du Faur's own style of painting developed and in turn reflected aspects of Delacroix's work as well as Théodore Géricault and Adolphe Monticelli. The latter's use of strong and thickly applied colours impressed Faber du Faur, who likewise experimented with the effects of colour and colour-division and like Monticelli anticipated the divisionist technique of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.
A visit to Tangiers in 1883 had a profound effect upon him; from then on Oriental subjects dominated Faber du Faur's repertoire. His Oriental works included a number of humorous images such as a scene of The Three Kings bearing coffee, tea and tobacco. He also painted Bedouin scenes including the 'Captured Bedouin' now at the Neue Pinakothek, Munich. However his most powerful images of the Middle East drew upon his earlier experiences as a military painter, of which the present work is exemplary. Dated 1783 and based on his experiences in Tangiers, it shows mounted Algerian warriors moments before battle; the leaders are in animated discussion while the horses and riders reach a frenzy of excitement. While the movement of the horses, the closely observed Arab features and the dramatic use of colour reflect the work of Géricault and Delacroix, Faber du Faur's image firmly belongs to the later nineteenth century. He died in Munich on 10th August 1901 in which year an exhibition of 80 of his oils and 60 watercolours was held at the Munich Kunstausstellung, and was followed the next year by another retrospective show. Otto was survived by his son Hans von Faber du Faur (1863-1949), who like his father and grandfather served in the army and also enjoyed repute as a painter