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Orientalist Paintings

In the 19th century, Western artists, caught in the fever of Romanticism, used themes from the Middle and Far East in their paintings. Orientalism idealized and romanticized, for the enjoyment of a Western audience, themes from exotic “other” cultures.

Sometimes an entire picture was an Orientalist scene, such as a picture of Turkish baths or an odalisque and slave. On other occasions, a single Orientalist element might be added to a more traditional picture. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Jean-Léon Gérôme are two major 19th century academic painters who utilized Orientalist themes.

Fascination with the East was not new in the 19th century. In France, cabinetmakers (known as ébénistes) painted onto furniture Chinese figures amid pagodas and exotic birds beginning in the 17th... Read more

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