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How did the East inspire Western artists? We invite you to discover it at the Marmottan Monet Museum through the exhibition “L’Orient des Peintres”. This exhibition presents about sixty masterpieces created by many Europeans painters who imagined the Orient before going there: the markets, the sensuality of the women of the harem, Turkish bath, etc. A great passion for the East that has been used for many paintings. Alexis Kuperfis, an art lover, introduces us to this exhibition.

Orientalism between myth and reality

The orientalism can be defined as an artistic movement, strongly present in painting and literature. This movement dates back to 1721, it takes its origins from the interest of Western artists in the East, a world known to some of them.

Then, in the 19th century, notably with the spread of means of transport and the advent of the steamboat, many artists, writers and painters had the opportunity to visit the East by themselves, in order to discover this world.

Between ethnographic studies and fantasy, the masterpieces have multiplied and the travel stories have thus become a literary genre in their own right, in order to illustrate the vision of Westerners from the East.

Harem and Hammam

Among all the topics addressed in Orientalist painting, the one about women remains the most well-known. As the harem was a place forbidden to men, especially foreign men, Western artists have freed their imagination, have changed their colour palette and enhanced the patterns in order to paint this mysterious place.

On the other hand, the Moorish bath, also called Turkish bath is part of the main topics of orientalism. Eastern societies have been known since the 17th century through the development of this purification place: the hammam. There is nothing surprising in that subject has seduced many Europeans painters of the 19th century.

It is notably the case of Ingres, who drew inspiration from Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s testimony about the hammam, in order to create erotic canvases with the theme of the Orient, the arabesque, the harem, the nude and the hammam.

The exhibition “L’Orient des Peintres”

If some paintings were the result of artists trips, some other works of art were the result of a great imagination, like the one of Ingres, who never has been to the Orient. It is therefore interesting to see which colors and which shapes have taken on the fantasies of these European artists.

According to Alexis Kuperfis, the exhibition “L’Orient des Peintre” may be a good opportunity to learn more about the Orient as it was dreamed and imaged by Westerns. The exhibition gives way to projections, essential pieces, canvases dating from the early 19th century and that realistically represent scenes observed, people met, etc. Visit the Marmottan Monet Museum to discover these masterpieces closely.