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The snake charmer



Nasreddine Dinet


28 Mar 1861 - 24 Dec 1929


Another of the prolofic technicians of late nineteenth-century art, Dinet was a French-born painter-illustrator, with a penchant for attention-seeking titles and striking technical effects are exploited in 'The snake charmer', an orientalist painting that doubles as a touristic postcard. Exotic in its geo-graphical setting and sensational in its subject matter, it further trades on scale as a strategy to arrest the viewer. The figures are large and brilliantly coloured, seeming to spill into the gallery space. The charmer himself is consciously that, with a toothy smile and 'authentic' costume. Also noteworthy is the treatment of bright sunlight which Dinet translates into broad applications of impasto paint with practised, not to say formulaic, ease. No real attempt is made to create a composition. Rather, the cropped casualness of a photograph is suggested.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.


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Alternative title

Le charmeur de viperes



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


176.5 x 180.4 cm

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l., yellow oil "E. DINET / ...1889".


Purchased 1890

Accession number


Artist information

Nasreddine Dinet

Works in the collection


Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Paris Salon, Paris/France, Purchased by the AGNSW from the Paris Salon 1890

Referenced in 29 publications


Koudir Benchikou, La vie et l'oeuvre de Etienne Dinet, Paris, 1991. 144

Koudir Benchikou, Catalogue del l'oeuvre de Dinet, 1984, 194. 144

Leonce Bénédite, L'artiste, 1890, 85.

Roger Benjamin, Orientalism – Delacroix to Klee, 'The Oriental Mirage', pg. 7-31, Sydney, 1997-1998, 20, 41-43, 44 (colour illus.), 45, 129 (colour illus.), 129-30.

Roger Benjamin, Look, 'The Romance of Arabia - Orientalism - Delacroix to Klee', pg. 14-17, Heidelberg, Dec 1997, 15 (colour illus.), 16.

Tim Bonyhady, Images in opposition: Australian landscape painting 1801–1890, 'Contrasting lights', pg.135-154, Melbourne, 1985, 149.

Armand Dayot, Le Salon de 1890, 1890, 84 (illus.).

Robert Dessaix, (and so forth), Sydney, 1998, (colour illus.). The image appears between pages 232 and 233.

Jeanne Dinet Rollince, La vie de E. Dinet, 1938, 62.

R. Fernandez, Le monde illustre, 17 May 1890, 322.

Renée Free, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'European', pg. 36-56, Sydney, 1988, 48.

Maurice Hamel, Le Salon de 1890, 1890, 86 (illus.).

Janet Hawley, Good Weekend, 'Scenes from the Kaskah', pg. 24-30, Sydney, 1997, 27, 28 (colour illus.).

Ernest Hoschédé, Brelaus de salons, 1890, 225.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 50 (colour illus.).

Firmin Javel, L'art francais, 28 Jun 1890. 166 (repr. en glyptographie)

Georges La Fesnetic, Revue des deux mondes, vil 3, 1890, 925.

Paul Mantz, Le Temps, 02 Jul 1890.

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Art Gallery of New South Wales: exhibition of continental art, Sydney, 1940. 1

Henri Pagat, Revue francaise et samedi réunis, 1890, 97.

Lynne Thornton, The Orientalists: painter travellers, 1983.

Anna Waldmann, Renée Free and Nicholas Draffin, Salon and Académie: the charm of tradition: a catalogue of nineteenth-century European salon works, Sydney, 1984, (illus.). no catalogue numbers

An exhibition of French art at the National Art Gallery of N.S.W, Sydney, 1944. 101

National Art Gallery of NSW: illustrated catalogue, Sydney, 1906, (illus.). 77

Editor Unknown (Editor), Paris Salon, Paris, 1890, 95 (illus.).

Author Unknown, Figaro, 1890, (illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Art and Australia, 'The Art of Arthur Streeton', pg. 12, Sydney, 1919, 12.

Art and Australia, 'Victorian favourites: a conversation - Elwyn Lynn and Lloyd Rees', pg. 49-56, Sydney, Spring 1984, 49, 52, 55.

Author Unknown, L'Art et les artistes, 1909-1910, 163-172.