(b. 1819, Sainte-Barbe de Samana, d. 1856, Paris)

Orientalist Interior: Nude in a Harem

Oil on panel, 46 x 38 cm
Private collection

Women at their toilettes had been a popular theme since the Renaissance, and orientalist scenes, usually in Turkish costume, had circulated since that time. These scenes had usually been boudoir pictures, however, private paintings and therefore private subjects. In the nineteenth century these subjects enter more frequently into the public sphere. Views of the (wholly invented) Harem offered a sexually exoticized, and some argue inherently politicised, new subject in Orientalism, a new genre.

Chassériau painted three Harem interiors after his trip to North Africa, the first dated 1849, and the last 1854; the painting here is dated between these two dates.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.