'Men Drinking Wine in French Algeria' by Charles Brouty (circa 1930s)
'Men Drinking Wine in French Algeria', pastel on card, by Charles Brouty (circa 1930s). Although grape vines grew naturally in Algeria for millennia, the Muslim population did not drink wine. Interestingly though, Algeria's wine industry flourished from the late 1800s until after WWII. Between 1875 - 1899, French (and European) vines were devastated by phylloxera thereby spurring on a vibrant wine export industry in the colonised country. Combined with the introduction of refrigeration technology, Algeria became the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world in the early 20th century. Later, as French vineyards recovered from the phylloxera pests, their winemakers started revolting against huge imports from Algeria. When a businessman imported Algerian wine to the UK under a French wine label, French winemakers protested fiercely. That event led to the laws that created the wine appellation rules meaning that a wine had to come from where it said it did on the label. The rest is history (paraphrased from an article by Belgian researchers, Giulia Meloni and Johan Swinnen).
With this as backdrop, the subject of this painting becomes even more fascinating. The artwork documents that even Algerian labourers stopped off at their local for an afternoon tipple. The two figures in the painting, expertly depicted by the artist, do indeed look comfortable in this setting. But perhaps their forlorn gazes meant they were looking forward to a future with an independent Algeria once again. For better or for worse, the French presence clearly influenced the behaviour of the locals and led to changes in their social norms making having alcohol acceptable in some circles. That of course ceased in 1962 when they ended their presence in one of their most beloved colonies. This beautifully executed work of art by an internationally collected artist is an opportunity to own this bit of history. In good vintage condition commensurate with age. Framed and glazed. Signed by the artist in the lower right hand corner: 'Ch Brouty'. Upon request a video of the piece will be provided.
About the Artist: Charles Brouty, (1892 - 1984) painter, journalist and draftsman, was born prematurely in 1892 in the French territorial waters off of Bastia, Corsica. Settled contentedly in French Algeria from 1912 to 1963 - the year in which he believes he was expelled - Charles Brouty sings his artistic songs of the country he so loved in its humblest and most magical manifestations. Official painter of the mission Ténéré-Berliet (Algiers-Fort-Lamy), decorator of the pavilion of Algeria at the international fairs of Paris and Brussels, Charles Brouty was awarded the following prizes: Grand Prix of Algeria and the Gold Medal of French Orientalist painters. Brouty was also awarded a residence in Casa Velazquez, a French school in Spain modelled on the Villa Médicis in Rome. Also renown as the illustrator of approximately twenty books on Algeria and its surrounding regions, he intended these drawings and paintings, better than any written documentation, to remain as a pictorial legacy of what life was like for the French 'Pied-Noirs' who cherished their lives in colonial Algeria.
Dimensions with frame:
H 82 cm / 32.3"
W 70 cm / 27.6"
Dimensions without frame:
H 59.5 cm / 23.4"
W 47 cm / 18.5"