Oil painting

The Sentinel

1870 (painted)

Régamey, Guillaume

Height: 55.2 cm estimate, Width: 45.7 cm estimate


Oil painting, 'The Sentinel', Guillaume Régamey, 1870

A soldier in blue overcoat and hood is leaning against a tree in the foreground, and facing to the spectator's right. His rifle, with bayonet fixed, rests against his right shoulder. Trees and flat lansdcape, perhaps the see in the background.

Guillaume Regamey (1837-1875) was born in Paris where he became the pupil of Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1802-1897) together with his two brothers Félix (1844-1907) and Frédéric (1849-1925). He participated to the first 'Salon des Refusés', which took place in François Bonvin's (1817-1887) atelier in 1859, where he befriended Corot. He had a short career and died at the early age of 37. A retrospective exhibition of his oeuvre took place at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1876. This is a fine example of Guillaume Régamey art he devoted almost entirely to the depiction of horses and horsemen. This painting shows an Algerian sentinel leaning against a tree in a sunny landscape. The bright albeit golden light and the earthen palette are typical of the Orientalist movement, a branch of Realism which favoured subjects inspired by distant settings of the Middle East.

Perhaps the work exhibited in 1869 at the R.A. under the title 'Sur le terrain conquis: sentinelle de tirailleurs Algériens' (n. 333). Purchased by Constantine Alexander Ionides for £60 (his inventory, private collection), probably directly from the artist (as for CAI 71 and 73, bought around 1873). Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides, 1900 Historical significance: This painting is a fine example of Régamey’s art and shows an Algerian sentinel leaning against a tree in a sunny landscape. The golden sunlight and earthern palette is typical of the Orientalist which combines some Romantic elements (the lone figure presented as a pensieroso) with a Naturalist approach. The figure represents a ‘spahi’, a French Colonial soldier from North Africa, primarily recruited from the indigenous populations of Algeria. Although it does not seem to have been in Africa, Régamey did many sketches and compositions of Arabs horsemen, probably after other artists’ designs. His visual memory was said to be considerable and enabled him to recreate details and compositional formulas in his atelier. This painting was probably commissioned by Constantine Alexander Ionides, whom Régamey had probably met through the intermediary of Legros during the winter 1870-71 in London. At that time, Régamey was sharing Legros’ studio in London and collaborating to the Illustrated London News. It was perhaps the work exhibited in 1869 at the Royal Academy, London, under the title Sur le terrain conquis: sentinelle de tirailleurs Algériens (n. 333).

Bequeathed by Constantine Alexander Ionides

Location: Paintings, room 81, case WEST WALL

View this object on the V&A website