More Orientalisme by Gérôme

A Tryst, 1840 ( A Tryst,1844 (

Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Orientalism

My post on Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Orientalism, Orientalisme: Mostly Gérôme, features several baschi-bazouk. This happened inadvertently.I wanted to show the whippet dogs and the character named Arnaut. I also wanted to show a hookah, a smoking and vaporizing instrument used in the various countries of the Ottoman Empire, as well as Pakistan and India. These were popular items in the 1960s and early 1970s, when smoking cannabis became fashionable.

Gérôme’s artwork also refers to pashas (see France in North Africa), persons who occupied a high rank in the Ottoman army and/or its government. Some Europeans became honorary pashas whose title could be compared to that of an Earl in Britain. (See Pasha, Wikipedia.) Other familiar scenes are mosques and harems. Gérôme also recorded the sale of white women. In the case of traite des blanches FR, the trading of white women, Gérôme goes back to the Roman Empire in his role as history painter. (See History Painting, Wikipedia.) Christians were sold as slaves, or captured, and among captives, there were white woman. Gérôme’s paintings of harems, or bathing women, show several white women.

I will therefore feature a few paintings that are not portraits of bashi-bazouk, the very cruel irregular soldiers of the Ottoman Empire.


The Slave Market in Rome by Gérôme, 1884 (


The Muezzin by Gérome, 1865, (Joslyn Art Museum)


Prayer in Cairo by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1865 (MMA, NY)


Harem Women Feeding Pigeons in a Courtyard by Gérôme, no date (


Napoléon in Egypt by Gérôme, c. 1863 (Princeton University Art Museum)


Gérôme was a very prolific artist whose art was at times extremely engaging, which is how it would appealed to Théophile Gautier. I have a favourite Gérôme, The Duel After the Masquerade, of which there are two copies. La Sortie du bal masqué cannot be classified as Orientalismbut it speaks to me, it is evocative.

When Americans went to Paris and bought works of art, art such as Gérôme’s was not bought frequently. It was academic art. Americans bought the works of innovators whose art was rejected at Paris Salon. The art of innovators was exhibited at the Salon des Refusés, the exhibition of artists whose art was rejected. Gérôme is known mainly as an academic painter. He was very well-trained and painted as he had been taught to paint. He was nevertheless very successful as an artist and art teacher. As noted above, he specialized in history painting. He also created art depicting Greek mythology. Third, he became a prominent orientalist.

I have inserted Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade Symphonic Suite (Op. 35, 2), composed in 1888. Scheherazade is based on the One Thousand and One Nights, Arabian fairy tales, and constitutes an excellent example of Orientalism in music.

Works by Gérôme are housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Walters Museum of Art, Baltimore, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, and other museums. Many have been purchased privately, and reproductions are available. A reproduction is not as valuable as the original work of art. However, content is the most important element in visual works of art and Gérôme was an accomplished artist.

Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade is one of the better known examples of Orientalism in music. It may be the best.



Pelt Merchant of Cairo, 1869 (

Jean-Léon Gérôme
Rimsky-Korsakov, Scheherazade, Symphonic Suite (Op. 35, 2)
Amir Selim


The Whirling Dervishes by Gérôme, 1895 (

© Micheline Walker
17 August 2016

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