Page One
You are listening to the song Terra.
'Angelica' by Charles Gleyre, Swiss. Watercolor, 1834.
   One hundred and seventy five years ago the great Swiss painter Charles Gleyre painted this portrait in watercolor of a young girl living in Istanbul. She was the eleven year old daughter of his host and her name was Angelica Calaphanti. History knows nothing of her and yet as we gaze at her image she seems to gaze back at us; across the generations she tells us that she was as alive and vital as we are today.

   The story of the Orientalists is a story of life. Of their lives and what they strove to accomplish and what they loved; and the story of the people they met and the places they recorded.

'Slave of Love and Light of my Eyes' by Etienne Dinet, French. Oil, 1904.
   'Abd el Gheram and Nour el Ain, Slave of Love and Light of my Eyes' tells the story of two lovers who are separated, and so they wait for the moon to be full like it was when they said their last good-byes, and imagine themselves to be in each others arms.

   The French artist Etienne Dinet first traveled to Algeria in 1884 with a fellow artist whose brother was on an entomological expedition searching for a rare ladybug! He spent the next 45 years traveling between France and Algeria, eventually settling in Bou-Saada. He loved the grace of the Algerians, their culture and religion. He learned arabic and eventually converted to Islam.

'Girls dancing and Singing' by Etienne Dinet, French. Oil, 1902.
   Two girls from the Ouled Nail tribe. Dinet spent considerable time with these people and strove to paint them with respect and understanding.

   Human representation in art was not allowed in Islam and so the Orientalists provided us with the first images we had of people of the Middle East. Many ethnic groups like the Ouled Nail, Copts, Berbers, and Jews were undervalued in their own countries, much like the American Indians were in the United States. As so often is the case it takes an outsider to appreciate an ethnic or religious minority.

'Complicity' by Jean-Leon Gerome, French. Oil, 1875.
   Most renowned of the Orientalists was Jean-Leon Gerome. In 'Complicity' He shows a man enjoying the company of his dogs. Because of their loose clothing men wore their pistols in holsters around their waist rather than on their hips.

   The detail in this painting seems almost photographic, and in fact many of the Orientalists used photography as a means to record detail accurately. In addition the early photographers styled themselves on the painters of the day.

   Gerome made four trips to the Middle East and produced an incredible wealth of images of the people and landscapes. Often traveling with other artists, Gerome was said to have the ability to 'read' people. He knew who to trust and who was trying to take advantage of him and his traveling companions relied on his judgment frequently.

Detail of holster

'Arab Girl' by Louis-Joseph Anthonissen, Belgian. Oil.
   Louis-Joseph Anthonissen was a Belgian painter who studied first in Antwerp and then in Paris. He specialized in landscapes and portraits and painted in the Academic style.

  The art world in the 19th century was extremely diverse. The Neoclassical movement which turned into the Academic style boasted artists such as Gerome, Leighton and Bouguereau, The Romantic movement had Delacroix and Regnault. Then there were the Pre-Raphaelites, the Realists and the Symbolists. From the landscape schools evolved the optical theories that inspired the Impressionists such as Renoir.
   Art was an extremely dynamic force. It was used to educate people, to titillate, inspire and protest. Paintings could be banned from the official exhibitions or could require bodyguards to protect them from adoring fans. Some paintings were even physically attacked such as Bouguereau's 'Le Printemps.'
   Art was used to portray the powerful in both victory and defeat. At the height of his power Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned the famous portrait of himself on a white stallion by Jacques-Louis David. Years later Meissonier would paint Napoleon in retreat from his disastrous Russian campaign.

'Salome' by Henri Regnault, French. Oil, 1870.
   Henri Regnault wowed the art world with this painting owing to it's unusual color scheme. The science of oil painting came to it's full fruition in the nineteenth century. The palette now included dazzling colors which could electrify a painting.

   First a student of Cabanel's and later influenced by Mariano Fortuny y Marshal, Regnault was one of the rising stars of the Romantic movement. He lived a passionate life, traveling to the Middle East even though he was broke, hanging out in Spain as it rose up against Queen Isabella the Second, he loved excitement and adventure.

   Henri Regnault predicted that he would not live long. Less than a year after this painting was completed his prediction came true; while fighting in the Franco-Prussion war, even though he was exempt from military service because of his artist status, he died in the battle of Buzenfal at the age of twenty eight.


'The Prayer at the Tomb' by Ludwig Deutsch, German. Oil, 1898.
   Ludwig Deutsch, a German painter of incredible skill is much more appreciated now than he was in his own lifetime. He studied first in Vienna and then in Paris, eventually becoming a citizen of France. He made numerous trips to the Middle East and spent some time in Cairo. He painted scenes of both ordinary and religious life and this image attests to his beautiful color palette and attention to detail.

   The setting is a tomb within the Blue Mosque in Cairo, dating back to 1346. As with many of the Orientalists Deutsch recorded the beautiful architecture of the Middle East.

Click the image to see the entire painting

   In addition to painting Edward Lear was famous for his nonsense rhymes:

And at night by the light of the Mulberry moon
They danced to the Flute of the Blue Baboon,
On the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree,
 And all were as happy as happy could be,
With the Quangle Wangle Quee.

'Purple Heron' by Edward Lear

   Lear was the twentieth of twenty one children in his family. When his parents broke up he was left in the care of an older sister. Responsibility came early to him and by the age of fifteen he was completely supporting himself by doing zoological illustrations. At the age of twenty three he left England for a nomadic lifestyle that would last all his life.   

   He was capable of beautiful line work as can be seen in both the picture of the heron and in the trees in 'The Pyramids Road, Gizah.' The trees in this painting had been planted by the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon the 3rd, at the celebration of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1868; one of the great engineering feats of the nineteenth century.

'The Pyramids Road, Gizah' by Edward Lear, British. Oil, 1873.
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