Jules LAURENS, The Blue Mosque, Tauris [La mosquée bleue à Tauris] 1872
Jules Laurens undertook an incredible three-year journey throughout the Middle East and Asia Minor to Persia in the late 1840s, as part of a scientific and geographical expedition. Despite incredible hardship, Laurens drew every day. These drawings and the journey provided the basis for a significant career as an Orientalist painter and illustrator, and as a commentator on Middle Eastern affairs. This work was painted almost twenty-five years after the journey. Based on his meticulous drawings, the painting depicts a mosque near Tabriz in present-day Iran. The imposing building stands in an austere, snow-covered landscape. The painting depicts the desolate conditions of a journey marked by weather extremes and ever-present danger. The snow, while beautiful in the painting, made the journey extremely treacherous and the expedition’s leader was temporarily snow-blind.