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Edwin Lord Weeks
Ship of the Desert
oil on panel
Other (Panel): 14 7/8 × 18 1/16 inches (14 7/8 × 18 1/16 inches)Framed: 25 1/4 × 28 3/8 × 3 1/2 inches (64.1 × 72.1 × 8.9 cm)
Credit Line
Gift of R. C. Johnson.
Accession Number
An American expatriate based in Paris, Edwin Lord Weeks was a prominent orientalist painter whose subject matter was drawn from North Africa, the Middle East, and India. Born in Boston, his desire for formal training and his appetite for travel precipitated his move to Europe in 1872.

In the early 1870s, Weeks traveled to the Middle East, one of many American and European painters to visit Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine in search of exotic subject matter. He braved life-threatening perils including typhoid fever, flooding, hostile mobs, and famine, none of which quelled his appetite for future travel. Ship of the Desert depicts a robed, turbaned Arab riding atop a camel, seated upon an elaborate, tasseled saddle. The golden sand blazes under the brilliant desert sun, creating a powerful glare. A relatively small work, it gains impact through its bold coloration and monumental treatment of camel and rider.