An Encampment in the Desert

William James Müller, 1812 - 1845

An Encampment in the Desert

William James Müller 1812 - 1845


A romantic scene of a nomadic encampment in the Turkish desert landscape. The scene shows two large, wooden framed tents covered with sacking, one in the foreground, the second a little distance away to the right. Congregated within and around the foreground tent are the people of the Yuruk ethnic group and their animals: to the left are three resting camels, still fully harnessed, with two men standing nearby, one resting his arm on the rump of the nearest animal; in the centre, a small family group comprising of a man, woman and young boy sit on the ground by a fire, the woman operating a machine resembling a mangle; standing to the right is a young woman carrying a child on her back; inside the tent is a woman and young girl, possibly sewing or weaving; to the right of the tent is a group of resting sheep. Scattered on the ground around the tent are various objects, including domestic crockery and musical instruments. The second tent, located slightly uphill, is more enclosed and has a woman and young child outside it with trees behind providing shelter. The background to the left reveals a flat and extensive landscape in purple tones with hills on the horizon. Frame: gilt moulded plaster with honeysuckle decoration in relief; inner gold slip with curved corners at top.

Display Label

Gallery text panel Expressing Passions Romanticism in Focus In 1772, Sir Joshua Reynolds told the Royal Academy that perfect works of art 'cannot express the passions'. Harmony, uniformity and restraint were preferred and there was little room for emotional content. This stress on classical qualities characterised the 1700s, echoing the stability and confidence of Georgian society. Artists of the early 1800s redressed the balance, placing human experience above artistic conventions and injecting greater personal vision into their work. This was largely in response to a more turbulent age of revolution, war and political reform. Uncertainty and rebellion were echoed in art through subjects representing disturbance and in an emphasis on individuality and imagination. The term Romanticism defines these developments. Although there was never an organised movement, there are distinctive hallmarks of Romantic art. These include a more direct response to nature and a new stress on colour as a means of expression. As artists became increasingly guided by their intuition, they grew more independent of patrons' demands: artistic freedom and experiment entered a new age.

Object Name

An Encampment in the Desert

Creators Name

William James Müller

Date Created



unframed: 101.7cm x 210.3cm
framed: 142.9cm x 250.2cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


© Manchester Art Gallery

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