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French artist Charles-Théodore Frére, son of a Parisian music publisher and brother of painter Pierre-Édouard Frére, studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris before traveling throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Frére’s fashionable travels in North Africa let him to produce an impressive body of Romantic ‘Orientalist’ paintings, some of which were commissioned by the King of Württemberg. A year after Napoléan III became Emperor of the French, Frére established a studio at Cairo in Egypt and became court painter to Abbas I who encouraged Frére’s elevation with the honorific rank of Bey (or chieftain).
In 1869 he attended the opening of the Suez Canal as a member of Empress Eugénie’s official entourage party. The following year the Empress commissioned Frére to paint a series of watercolours, the delivery of which was interrupted by the 1870 Franco-Prussian War.
Frére's work resides in several international private collections and in the public collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Harvard University Art Museums and the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.
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