The J. Paul Getty Museum

Market Scene in an Imaginary Oriental Port

Object Details


Market Scene in an Imaginary Oriental Port


Jean-Baptiste Pillement (French, 1728 - 1808)




France (Place Created)


about 1764


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



50.8 × 74.6 cm (20 × 29 3/8 in.)

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Object Description

As centers of commercial and cultural exchange, seaports bring together people from distant and diverse places. Here, colorful figures dance amid an exotic port's marketplace, which is lined by tropical-looking trees and European-style homes. This scene does not depict a real location, but rather, a figment of the artist's imagination. It also reflects European fascination with the Orient in the 1700s.

In the painting's center, a man who appears to be Chinese dances and plays the bells, flanked by other, dark-skinned performers. Their figures cast long shadows across a flagstone plaza, mimicking the shapes of the garlands and swags draped on nearby trees and buildings. Veiled and turbaned vendors converse among the market stalls. At the back of the square, a Turkish sultana holds court in a tent topped with a crescent moon.

The busy port in the distance stretches toward the horizon, creating a sense of deep space. The painting's symmetrical composition implies the setting for a performance. Recent scholarship suggests that Jean-Baptiste Pillement may have made this painting to commemorate a ballet commissioned and performed in Vienna in 1764.

by 1911 - 1922

Alfred Samuel Heidelbach, 1851 - 1922, by inheritance to his wife, Julie Heidelbach, 1922.

1922 - 1933

Julie (Picard) Heidelbach, 1859 - 1932 [sold, Madame Heidelbach sale, Bellier, Paris, December 16, 1933, lot 18, to Baron Cassel (Jean Germain Léon Cassel).]

1933 - 1943

Jean Germain Léon Cassel, Baron Cassel, Belgian, 1882 - 1952 (possibly Paris, France; Ruoms or Cannes, France), confiscated by the Nazis in France, 1943.

1943 - 1945

In the possession of the Nazis (Paris, France; Altaussee, Austria), recovered by the Allied Forces in Altaussee.
Source: Card for Munich no. 9773, Deutsches Historiches Museum (DHM), Munich Central Collecting Point database.

1945 - 1946

In the custody of the Allied Forces (Altaussee, Austria; transferred to the Central Collecting Point, Munich, Germany, October 1945), repatriated to France, May 1946.
Source: French Receipt No. F-6, May 23, 1946, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), publication no. M1926, record group 260, roll 0037; entry for Munich no. 9773, DHM, Munich Central Collecting Point database.

1946 - before 1954

French government, restituted to Jean Germaine Léon Cassel or his estate, before 1954.

- 1954

Jean Germain Léon Cassel, Baron Cassel, Belgian, 1882 - 1952 [sold, Cassel sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, March 9, 1954, lot 41, to Marcel Bissey.]

1954 -

Marcel Bissey, born 1901 (Paris, France)
Source: JPGM, Paintings Department, curatorial files, Binoche, letter of February 11, 2003.

- 2002

Heirs of Marcel Bissey, born 1901 [sold, Importants Tableaux, Meubles, Objets d'art, Binoche, Paris, March 21, 2002, lot 12, to Jean-Luc Baroni, Ltd.]


Jean-Luc Baroni, Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003.

Turquerie au XVIIIe siècle (May 17 to October 16, 1911)
  • Pavillon de Marsan, Palais du Louvre (Paris)
Imagining the Orient (October 5, 2004 to April 3, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 5, 2004 to April 3, 2005
Mozart: Experiment Aufklärung im Wien des ausgehenden 18. Jahrhunderts (March 17 to September 20, 2006)
  • Albertina (Vienna), March 17 to September 20, 2006
Louis Style: French Frames from Louis XIII to Louis XVI, 1610-1792 (September 15, 2015 to January 3, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), September 15, 2015 to January 3, 2016

Chesneau, Ernest. "Le Ballet." In Trois tableaux de F. Boucher (Paris: Cadart & Luquet, 1867), pp. 5-6, ill.

Exposition de la Turquerie au XVIIIe siècle, exh. cat. (Paris: Palais du Louvre, 1911), p. 37, no. 60.

Bellier, Paris. Succession de Madame Heidelbach: Catalogue des objets d'art et d'ameublement du XVIIIe siècle [...]. December 16, 1933, p. 22, lot 18, pl. IV, no. 18.

Galerie Charpentier, Paris. Tableaux anciens, estampes, objets d'art et de bel ameublement [...]. March 9, 1954, lot 41, pl. XIV.

Binoche, Paris. Importants Tableaux, Meubles, Objets d'Art. March 21, 2002, p. 37, lot 12, ill.

Gallery Notes (London: John Mitchell Fine Paintings, 2002), unpaginated, under "Jean-Baptiste Pillement," entry by Peter J. Mitchell.

Garstang, Donald. Master Paintings and Sculpture 2003, exh. cat. (London: Jean-Luc Baroni, Ltd., 2003), unpaginated, no. 22, ill.

Brown, Bruce Alan. "Magri in Vienna: The Apprenticeship of a Choreographer." In The Grotesque Dancer on the Eighteenth-Century: Gennaro Magri and His World. Rebecca Harris-Warrick and Bruce Alan Brown, eds. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005), pp. 86-87, fig. 3.2, cover ill.

Gordon-Smith, Maria. Pillement (Cracow: IRSA, 2006), pp. 10, 119, 121, 126-27, fig. 117.

Lachmayer, Herbert, ed. Mozart: Experiment Aufklärung im Wien des ausgehenden 18. Jahrhunderts, exh. cat. (Vienna: Albertina, with Hatje Cantz, 2006), p. 366, no. 850, entry by Rainer Metzger.

Locke, Ralph P. Music and the Exotic: From the Renaissance to Mozart (Cambridge: University Press, 2015), pp. 275-76, 278, figs. 12.1-12.2.