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.


  • Title: The snake charmer
  • Creator: Etienne Dinet
  • Date Created: 1889
  • Physical Dimensions: 176.5 x 180.4 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Purchased 1890
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Signature & Date: Signed and dated l.l., yellow oil "E. DINET / ...1889".
  • Provenance: Paris Salon (France), Paris/France, Purchased by the AGNSW from the Paris Salon 1890
  • Object Alternate Title: Le charmeur de viperes
  • Artist Country: France

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