The oriental-themed paintings by Delacroix are well-known for unrivaled ingenious achievements. Since the Egyptian campaign of Napoleon, Orientalism had spread throughout Europe and been prevalent in the early 19th century together with the subjects of Romantic paintings.
Circassians are an ethic group that reside in the region along the coasts of the Black Sea in Ciscaucasia, where is located at the foot of the Caucasus mountains on the border of Europe and Asia. In the medieval period, many of the Circassians were sent as slaves to Islamic countries. It is well-known that they were used as Mamluks (slave soldiers) and established the Mamluk dynasty of Egypt.
Despite the small picture, the free and flowing brush strokes, pink and blue tones of the sky, and brilliant, jewel-like colors that are seen on this work fully represent the characteristics in style of the artist which were often seen in his late works. Previously known as Mamluk Cavalry, this painting was considered, without any clear evidences, to have been created between 1828 and 1835. The fact, however, is that Mamluks generally wear a Muslim’s turban: In fact, such an appearance of Mamluk is depicted in the earlier works by Delacroix, Géricault, Gros, Carle Vernet and other painters. In addition, the features of the Circassians are certainly reflected on the figures in this painting, but due to some imaginary elements seemingly added onto the figures’ clothes, there is a concern remaining over identifying the figures as the Circassians with conviction. As such, an assumption can be established that it may be an original view that Delacroix created, summoning up his memories on views and scenes that were retained from his journey to North Africa in the first half of 1832. It is partly because in his later years, Delacroix was keen on adding his own unique artistic creation, as shown on this painting, when painting oriental clothes.
There is a drawing, dated April 9, 1858, of the same composition as this painting. It is regarded as a preparatory drawing for this oil painting, providing a compelling evidence that this work was created around 1858.


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