Sketch for "The Revolt at Cairo"

Sketch for "The Revolt at Cairo"

c. 1809

Oil on paper, mounted on paper and canvas

Framed: 25 x 33 x 6.5 cm (9 13/16 x 13 x 2 9/16 in.); Unframed: 15.2 x 23.3 cm (6 x 9 3/16 in.)

Gift of Eugene Victor Thaw 1965.310

Description

Several months after Napoleon's 1798 invasion of Egypt, rebellion erupted in Cairo. French troops viciously suppressed the uprising, including a massacre in the Al-Azhar Mosque of Mamelukes, an all-male group of warriors who occupied much of the Middle East at the time. Napoleon chose this subject for the artist, but because no documentation or eyewitness reports survived, Girodet freely interpreted the event. Interest in Mamelukes gripped France at this time. To ensure a steady supply of new recruits, Mamelukes enslaved and trained boys from across the Ottoman Empire, and the group at the right demonstrates Girodet's fascination with their racial diversity and perceived homoeroticism.

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