New York City, NY
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of its dedication, the Kenneth Jay Lane Gallery (gallery 804) is the setting for 26 paintings that have been promised or given to The Met by Mr. Lane. The European artists represented in this exhibition, including Horace Vernet (1789–1863) and Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904), shared a deeply ingrained fascination for the cultures that thrived beyond the Mediterranean, from Morocco in the west to Egypt and Turkey in the east.
Most of these Orientalist painters, as they are traditionally known, traveled to those places and later incorporated what they saw into scenes of everyday life or historical themes—sometimes objectively and at other times based on largely imagined notions of the exotic.
This gallery serves as a crossroads both figuratively and literally: nearby are galleries of European paintings as well as the art of North Africa and the Middle East.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Orientalism in Art is an indispensable volume for art historians and anyone with a passion for Orientalist art. Among the more remarkable crosscurrents affecting the development of European painting in the 19th and early 20th centuries was the influence of the exotic cultures of the Middle East and North Africa. Author Christine Peltre's elegant text retraces Orientalism's artistic history, in which the French and British schools predominated. Witnesses to a history that they influenced in subtle ways through their imagery, the Orientalist painters also produced a history of their own, that of a spiritual and formal quest to find in the East the ideal of primitive purity.
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