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With Two Dromedaries and One Donkey

A turning point in Paul Klee’s art occurred in 1914, when he spent two weeks in Tunisia. The watercolors made during this trip synthesized his earlier efforts to be both naturalistic and abstract, to unite “outer” observation with the “inner” pictorial logic of Cubist design. The color and geometry of these Tunisian watercolors, suggestive of indigenous textiles, would shape his work for years to come. Klee’s original title for this subject was Entry into the Orient—perhaps reflective of his own arrival in Kairouan or the domed architecture in the background. When he reworked the sketch in 1919, he gave it the present title, thereby drawing attention to the tiny animal caravan backlit by the glow of a toned paper that suggests the heat of North Africa.

Paul Klee
Swiss (active in Germany), 1879–1940
With Two Dromedaries and One Donkey
1914/19
Watercolor and gouache on yellow paper
Image/sheet: 9 9/16 x 8 7/16 in. (24.2 x 21.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Bernard and Cola Heiden Collection, 2000.141