Toledo Museum Home

Prints and Authors in the Time of Manet

Rodolphe Bresdin
French, 1822–1885

The Good Samaritan (Le bon Samaritain)

Lithograph, 1861
Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1982.214

Exhibited in the Salon of 1861 as Abd-el-Kader Aiding a Christian, this lithograph was a major success. The year before it was made, an Algerian chieftain, Abd-el-Kader, brought thousands of Christians under his personal protection during fierce religious warfare in Syria, including the French Consul. Rudolph Bresdin was, like many others, inspired by this act of kindness. Later renamed The Good Samaritan, the print became Bresdin’s best-known work largely due to its size, intricate technique, and wealth of detail.

A solitary eccentric, Bresdin was greatly influenced by the novels of James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851), such as The Last of the Mohicans. Like the American author, Bresdin often focused on the theme of a noble man’s journey in an increasingly corrupt world. In this print, the mysterious forest setting, with exotic animals partially hidden among the leaves, represents unspoiled nature. The exceptional degree of detail, tonal range, and wide variety of textures in this print legitimized lithography as an artistic medium worthy of a great master.