Auguste-Alexandre Hirsch (Lyon 1833 - Paris 1911) was an French Academic painter. Hirsch's artistic career was marked by diversity. Beginning in 1857, when Hirsh debuted at age twenty-four, the artist's early submissions to the Paris Salons included portraits as well as religious, Genre and historical subjects. A visit to Morocco in 1870 inspired his mature period and its focus on the women in and around the community of Tetuán. This study of "exotic" women may have informed the present work of an alluring figure stretched across a gauzy white cloud, her jet-black hair flowing across a midnight-blue sky, her alabaster skin shimmering with reflected starlight.
Placed in the odalisque pose common to Orientalist painters' harem scenes, Hirsch's subject is a seductive fantasy, its eroticism made safe by its basis in Classical mythology. In Hesiod's Theogony, a poem that told of the birth of Greek gods and goddesses, Nyx was the personification of Night, a prime element of nature and one of the first beings to come from the Void.
The daughter of Chaos, Nyx and her siblings Erebus (Darkness), Gaia (the Earth), and Tartarus (the Underworld), were the parents of generations of Greek gods and goddesses. With her brother Erebus, Nyx gives birth to Aether (atmosphere), Hmera (day), while conceiving alone Momus (blame), Ponos (toil), Moros (fate), Thanatos (death) and Hynos (sleep) along with many others. Such fecundity earned her the title of "lusty sire", described by Hesoid as an awe-inspiring, terrifying being living in an "awful home... wrapped in dark clouds" (see the Theogony's ff. 744-757). It is this "home" that Hirsch paints so evocatively, a realm furnished only by the cloud-like divan and swirling swaths of dark fabric, the cool color palette interrupted by splashes of the hot pink and dusty oranges of exotic flowers, some of their petals shed, while a stem of closed buds is held by Night, ready to bloom with the coming of day. Night proved a powerful source of inspiration for artists from antiquity through the nineteenth century; works by Hirsch's contemporaries William Bouguereau and Henri Fantin-Latour also mine her ancient iconography of ethereal mystery and alluring power.
Il pittore Francese Auguste-Alexandre Hirsch (Lyon 1833 - Paris 1911) studiò alla Scuola di Belle Arti di Lione prima di entrare nell’atelier di Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864) e di Charles Gleyre (1806-1874). Dal 1857 espone in molti salon, tra cui il Salon des Artistes Français, la Société des Artistes Français e alle Esposizioni Universali. Realizzò ritratti, scene di Genere, pitture di storia e litografie. Nel 1870 viaggiò in Marocco con Antoine Lecomte, recandosi per un periodo a Tageri per poi stabilirsi a Tetuan.
Come Lecomte, ritrae soprattutto la comunità ebraica, particolarmente numerosa in questa città: Piccolo ebreo di Tetuan ed Istruzioni religiose in Marocco. Non manca di rappresentare però anche i musulmani, come nelle opere Ritorno degli Hadjis (1880 c.), Marocchini al bagno, Ritratto di marocchino.