Frederick Arthur Bridgman (November 10, 1847 – January 13, 1928)
was an American artist known for his paintings of "Orientalist"
Born in Tuskegee, Alabama, he was the son of a physician. He
began as a draughtsman in New York City, for the American Bank Note
Company in 1864–1865, and studied art in the same years at the
Brooklyn Art Association and at the National Academy of Design. He
went to Paris in 1866, and in 1867 he entered the studio of the
noted academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904), where he was
deeply influenced by Gérôme's precise draftsmanship, smooth
finishes, and concern for Middle-Eastern themes. Thereafter, Paris
became his headquarters.
Bridgman made his first trip to North Africa between 1872 and
1874, dividing his time between Algeria and Egypt. There he executed
approximately three hundred sketches, which became the source
material for several later oil paintings that attracted immediate
attention. Bridgman became known as "the American Gérôme", although
Bridgman would later adopt a more naturalistic aesthetic,
emphasizing bright colors and painterly brushwork. His large and
important composition, The Funeral Procession of a Mummy on the
Nile, in the Paris Salon (1877), bought by James Gordon Bennett,
Jr., brought him the Cross of the Legion of Honor.
Additional visits to the region throughout the 1870s and 1880s
allowed him to amass a collection of costumes, architectural pieces,
and objets d'art, which often appear in his paintings. (Amusingly,
John Singer Sargent noted that Bridgman's overstuffed studio, along
with the Eiffel Tower, were Paris's must-see attractions.) Though
Bridgman maintained a lifelong connection to France, his popularity
in America never waned. Indeed, in 1890, the artist had a one-man
show of over 400 pictures in New York's 5th Avenue galleries. When
the show moved to Chicago's Art Institute, it contained only 300
works – testimony to the high number of sales Bridgman had made.
One of Bridgman's most recognized Orientalist images, A Street
Scene in Algeria, is exceptional for its biographical and historical
significance. Many of its details can be considered "signature"
motifs of the artist, and its subject, a pointed record of travel.
In keeping with Bridgman's tendency in the 1880s to focus on
intimate domestic subjects, two seated male figures are given pride
of place in the center of the composition, gesticulating while they
Other paintings by him were An American Circus in Normandy,
Procession of the Bull Apis (now in the Corcoran Gallery of Art,
Washington, D.C.), and a Rumanian Lady (in the Temple collection,
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