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Orientalism

82 artworks, 21 artists
Orientalism (lat. orientalis — oriental) is a stylistic trend in art, mainly in the Western art, which uses subjects, mythology, cultural and architectural attributes of the Eastern countries. This trend was widespread among the European artists, especially in England and France, and it embodied in painting, architecture and decorative and applied arts of the 18—19th centuries.

The origins of Orientalism go back to the 15th century. One of the first to include oriental motifs in his works was Gentile Bellini, the court painter of the Doge of Venice. After spending two years at the court of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, he introduced oriental motives and attributes into his work. Veronese and other Venetian masters followed his creative finds. About a hundred years later, Orientalism reasserted itself in the paintings of the French artists: after France had entered the Franco-Ottoman alliance, an active cultural and scientific exchange began between the countries. At the beginning of the 18th century, France was embraced by Turkish fashion, and a separate stylistic trend arose in art, Turquerie, which soon became an integral part of the Rococo style. The artists Jean-Étienne Liotard, Charles André van LooJean Baptiste Vanmour liked to introduceoriental subjects to their work.

The next impetus to the development of Orientalism was the Egyptian campaign of Napoleon Bonaparte. Starting in 1798 with the capture of Malta, French troops occupied Alexandria, and later Cairo. The army was accompanied by the Commission of Science and Arts, and on 22 August 1798, the Institute of Egypt began its work on the outskirts of Cairo. Scientists studied various aspects of ancient culture: mathematics, physics, literature, art. At the end of the Egyptian campaign, the French managed to take out almost all of their developments, sketches and exhibits except for large finds, including the famous Rosetta stone, which was taken by the British. By the end of the 1820s, a huge work “Description of Egypt” was published in France, which included 10 volumes of illustrations and engravings and 9 volumes of descriptions that aroused great interest in the culture of Eastern countries.

The artist Antoine-Jean Gros, the official painter at the court of Napoleon, made his contribution to the development of Orientalism. He left a number of paintings with the exploits of his brilliant patron against the oriental landscapes and entourage, to his descendants. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres introduced the images of odalisques into his works — the oriental version of nude in sophisticated interiors. Despite the fact that Ingres had never been to the East, the abundance of literary and scientific works that disclosed this topic allowed the artist to create his own image of the Oriental culture. His oriental paintings gave the successful career start to Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps.

The movement developed as the trade and cultural ties of Europe with the Oriental countries — Turkey, Egypt, Palestine, China, and Japan — were strengthening. Paintings depicting harem scenes, slave markets and mythological subjects were very popular. Paintings in the Orientalist style aroused curiosity and attracted buyers, since they reflected a different lifestyle, morality, behaviour and the way of life itself. Egyptian, Moorish, Japanese and Chinese motives and elements were included in the architectural decoration of new and old buildings, pavilions, and gazebos. For Orientalist paintings, artists preferred to use gold, orange, red, and blue, which, in their opinion, conveyed the hot atmosphere of the Orient, its scorching deserts and sunny heat.

Significant paintings by Orientalist artists:
Bonaparte Visits the Plague Stricken in Jaffa by Antoine-Jean Gros,1799
La Grande Odalisque by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1814
Women of Algiers by Eugène Delacroix, 1834
The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple by William Holman Hunt, 1855
Black Bashi-Bazouk, Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1869
The Apparition, Gustave Moreau, 1877

Famous Orientalist artists:
Jean-Étienne Liotard, Charles-André van Loo, Jean Baptiste Vanmour, Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Nouÿ, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Antoine-Jean Gros, Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Chasseriot, William Holman Hunt, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Gustave Moreau.
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