Orientalism Art Movement

France 1750 - 1850

Orientalism Art Movement, History, Orientalist Paintings & Artists.

Orientalism art movement in art is a term utilized for artwork featuring Middle Eastern, South Asian, and East Asian themes. Orientalist painting, depicting more specifically "the Middle East", was one of the many branches of the nineteenth-century Academic art.

Orientalism, First Conquer them, then Paint Them.

Orientalism in art was a great excuse among other things to paint nude or semi-clothed women in assuming poses and be able to have the paintings admired and exhibited. With the academic movement in full force, having strict guidelines for what is, or is not acceptable, and how it must be painted, Orientalist painters were given a bit more leeway because this was a new subject matter to paint. The European countries were now taking large areas of North Africa and the Middle East as new colonies. French Orientalist painting was transformed by Napoleon's unsuccessful invasion of Egypt and Syria in 1798-1801, which stimulated great public interest in Egyptology. These new colonies had hardly been explored by the Europeans, and what they saw was a bright, noisy, colorful, relaxed and sexy new world. The famous artists to come over, where usually attached to a military expedition, to record the history of the new conquests, not only military but also social and cultural. The sketches were made into oil paintings usually upon their return, and when exhibited, created great interest in these strange new lands. Although these were not new lands, they were there for millennia and can be found in Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque art. Gentile Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio were the leading painters at that time. What was new was that as industrialization in Europe began to create a middle class, and the advent of steamships, these lands became accessible to more artists and “tourists”, having these land under the protection of your home country, also made it a somewhat safer trip.

Orientalism is Voyeurism for the Wealthy.

In a significant number of these works, they depicted the Orient as exotic, colorful and sensual, not to say stereotyped. The French painters Eugène Delacroix, Jean-Léon Gérôme, and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres painted many works depicting Islamic culture, including relaxing Odalisques. This French name is taken from Turkish and sounds very exotic but an odalisque is no more than a female slave in a harem, a concubine. Gérôme was the forerunner, and often the master, of many French painters in the later part of the century whose works were often salacious, including scenes in harems with concubines, public baths, and slave auctions, and responsible, with others, for "the equation of Orientalism with the nude in pornographic mode".

When Ingres, painted a colored vision of a Turkish bath, he made his eroticized Orient acceptable by his diffuse generalizing of the female forms. More open sensuality was seen as acceptable in the exotic Orient. This imagery persisted in art into the early 20th century, as showed in Matisse's orientalist semi-nudes from his Nice period, and his use of Oriental costumes and patterns. Ingres' pupil Théodore Chassériau had already achieved success with his nude The Toilette of Esther and equestrian portrait of Ali-Ben-Hamet, Caliph of Constantine and Chief of the Haractas, Followed by his Escort before he ever visited the East.

Eugène Delacroix's first great success, The Massacre at Chios was painted before he visited Greece or the East and followed his friend Théodore Géricault's The Raft of the Medusa in showing a recent incident in distant parts that had aroused public opinion. Greece was still fighting for independence from the Ottomans and was as exotic as the more Near Eastern parts of the empire. Delacroix followed up with Greece on the Ruins of Missolonghi, and the Death of Sardanapalus commemorating a siege of the previous year, and the, inspired by Lord Byron, which although set in antiquity has been credited with beginning the mixture of sex, violence, lassitude, and exoticism which runs through much French Orientalist painting. Like many later Orientalist painters, he was frustrated by the difficulty of sketching women, and many of his scenes featured Jewish women who were more accessible or warriors on horses. Yet, he was able to get into the women's' quarters or harem of a house to sketch what became Women of Algiers in their Apartment; few later harem scenes had this claim to authenticity, because men were not allowed into the Harems, especially foreign men, so many artists were left with fantasizing about what it might look like in there.

The origins of British Orientalist 19th-century owe more to religion than military conquest or the search for plausible locations for naked women. The leading British genre painters made the trip with a Protestant agenda to reform religious painting. Hoping to find more authentic settings and decor for Biblical subjects at their original location. Other artists including the Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt and David Roberts had similar motivations, giving an emphasis on realism in British Orientalist art from the start.

William Holman Hunt created many major paintings of Biblical subjects drawing on his Middle Eastern voyages, improvising variants of contemporary Arab ensembles and furnishings to dodge pure Islamic styles. The scriptural subjects included The Scapegoat and The Shadow of Death.

When Gérôme exhibited The Slave Market at the Royal Academy in London in 1871, it was found very offensive, partly because the British liked to think they had suppressed the slave trade in Egypt, also for cruelty and "representing flesh for its own sake".

John Frederick Lewis painted detailed works showing both realistic genre scenes of Middle Eastern life and more idealized scenes in upper-class Egyptian interiors with no traces of Western cultural influence.

Partly from: Wikipedia

Famous Orientalism Art Movement Oil Painting Reproductions.

Orientalism Art Movement Painters Biography & Painting Reproductions.