Pretty women and exotic harems. Oriental beauty in art history

Pretty women and exotic harems. Oriental beauty in art history
Isabel del Rio
Women of Algiers (1834) by Delacroix

Women of Algiers (1834) by Delacroix

What is a real harem? It’s simple, the place of the house where women live. Of course, we are talking about girls as well as ancients, and about pretty as well as ill women. However, Western fantasy has turned this reality in a world of exoticism, where beautiful ladies are dressed like princesses of One Hundred and One Nights while dancing and resting in luxurious rooms.

Thus, our artists have created wonderful paintings which has nothing to do with reality. But art is fantasy and everything is allowed.

Today, enjoy seven paintings about harems by seven masters of all times: Delacroix, Fortuny, Ingres, Frederick Lewis, Renoir, Matisse and Picasso. What do you prefer? Tell us your opinion now!

“Women of Algiers” (1834) by Delacroix. The warmth of the colors and the sensuality of the fabrics are quite suggestive. Here, this romantic painter begins a genre that will continue throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century.

“The Odalisque” (1861) by Fortuny. It’s a suggestive oil painting by the Spanish artist Mariano Fortuny. It’s currently exhibited in the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in Barcelona.

The Odalisque (1861) by Fortuny

The Odalisque (1861) by Fortuny

“The Turkish Bath” (1862) by Ingres. Its eroticism caused no scandal at the time, but it wasn’t displayed until the twentieth century in public museums. He is currently in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.

“Gossip” by John Frederick Lewis (1804-1876). This English artist felt very attracted by oriental worlds, and female harems are one of his recurrent themes.

Gossip by John Frederick Lewis

Gossip by John Frederick Lewis

‘One Harem in Montmartre’ (1872) by Renoir. The subtitle of the painting makes clear the intention of the artist: Parisians dressed like Algerians.

Video: From Renoir to Picasso. Beautiful harems.

“Decorative Figure on an ornamental background” (1925-1926) by Matisse. The father of Fauvism was another great admirer of the subject. When he died his friend Picasso took the witness and to honor his mentor continued to paint harems. Which do you prefer? Difficult? For sure.

Decorative Figure on an ornamental background (1925-1926) by Matisse

Decorative Figure on an ornamental background (1925-1926) by Matisse

“Woman on a Black Armchair” (1932) by Picasso. Beautiful? Picasso is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century! He is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore… Also harems.

Woman on a Black Armchair (1932) by Picasso

Woman on a Black Armchair (1932) by Picasso

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