French. Last Quarter Of The Nineteenth Century.


Sight Size: Height: 71" (180.3 cm); Width: 17 1/4" (43.8 cm); With Frame: Height: 75" (190.5 cm); Depth: 1 3/4" (4.5 cm).

Handcolored lithograph depicting an Algerian infantryman of the French Armée Afrique.

Inscribed at the bottom:
Lith. de Fr. Wentzel a Wissembourg.    Déposé    DÉPôT V Humbert et Wentzel, rue St. Jacques, 65 PARIS.

Private Collection, New York City.

The present lithograph depicts a Tirailleur Algérian (Algerian sharphooter), a light infantryman of the Armée d’Afrique, which was developed by the French during the colonization of North Africa. The tirailleurs were officially created under the Second Empire in 1855 and were predominantly made up of native servicemen. The soldiers wore Zouave-style uniforms refered to as tenue oriental (Oriental dress), which comprised a blue jacket with yellow braiding worn over a sleeveless vest, blue harem trousers, a red sash at the waist and a fez or turban worn on the head. Algerian tirailleurs served in the Crimean war, the Second Italian War of Independence, the second Franco-Mexican war, and the Franco-Prussian War, as well as colonial campaigns in North Africa. They acquired the nickname Turcos (Turks) during the Crimean war, by which they were widely known over the following century. Figure 1 depicts a late 19th century photograph of a group of Tirailleur Algérians.

The lithograph was produced by the Wentzel family of lithographers. Jean Frédéric Wentzel was born in Wissembourg on October 15, 1807 and was trained as a bookbinder. Under Napoleon, the freedoms of the press were severely restricted and special permits were required to sell and produce printed materials. In order to obtain these permits one needed a certificate of good conduct from one’s mayor, as well as a “certificate of competence from four men of the same occupation.”1 Wentzel worked to obtain these documents over a twenty-year span; he received his brevet de libraire (bookselling permit) in 1832 and his brevet de lithographe (permit to produce lithographs) in 1835, from which point he lead his workshop in the printing of  popular imagery of Wissembourg. He ultimately received his brevet d’imprimeur in 1851, which allowed him to print text.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.