Friday, October 16, 2009

Ingres' Oriental Pastiche

It took me forever to find a copy of Walter B. Denny's article, "Orientalism in European Art," but I'm glad that I finally got one (Dr. Denny was kind enough to mail me a copy). I plan on using this article as an introduction to Orientalism (i.e. European depictions of Middle Eastern/Far Eastern imagery). This article is great because it explains the concept of Orientalism in art but it really doesn't delve into any theory. How perf for an intro class!

My favorite part of this article was actually in a footnote. Denny pointed out various anachronistic and inappropriate Oriental objects in Ingres' painting, Odalisque with Slave (1839-40). For example, the slave's headwear is 18th century Ottoman, but her pantaloons are Indian in design. Furthermore, the architectural background is Cairene and the drapes are European velvet. Denny also notes that the taj helmet on the left is also out-of-place.1

What a pastiche of Oriental elements! Obviously, Ingres was trying to depict the Orient with some degree of authenticity, but he wasn't too concerned about historical, geographic or cultural accuracy.

1 Walter B. Denny, "Orientalism in Art," The Muslim World 3-4 (1983): 267.

*I decided to count my reading of this article for a category in Heidenkind's Art History Challenge.