Jews in Orientalism PDF Print E-mail

Paris Art Studies - Jews in Orientalism  -  Principal artists in exhibition:


Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)

The Romantic master is the first French artist to visit North Africa - Algeria and Morocco -  as part of the first French diplomatic mission, led by the duc de Mornay, to enter Morocco after the conquest of Algeria. He came into contact with the Jewish communities in both countries and produced a great many watercolors on the spot. The “Jewish wedding in Morocco” presented to the salon of 1841 is his most famous painting of the Jewish community of North Africa.

Theodore Chassériau (1819-1856)

A very talented member of the French Romantic generation, Chassériau first visited Algeria in 1846. His Orientalist sketches and watercolors and visions dark-eyed oriental beauties are very much inspired by Delacroix’s.

Alfred Dehondenq (1822-1882)

This painter, sometimes called the “last romantic”, eventually settled in Cadiz in southern Spain from where he frequently visited Tangiers. His rich colors and fluid brushwork owe a great deal to Delacroix.

“The execution of the Jewish girl” c. 1862 is an illustration of the legend of Sol Hachuel who was condemned to death after reneging on her supposed conversion to Islam.

Jean Léon Gérôme (1824-1904)

One of the most famous Orientalists in French 19th century art, Gerôme was the ultimate salon and academic master of his time, known for his meticulous style and verisimilitude.  He was passionate about the Orient which he visited on numerous occasions, notably, Egypt, and the Turkish Middle East.

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer (1865-1953)

 Very talented, but little known Symbolist French artist of the turn of century, he first visited Morocco in 1901. His “Blind Men in Tangiers” is a rare Orientalist or Jewish-themed work.

William Wylde (1806-1889)

Son of an English merchant and late starter in art, Wylde is one of the first English Orientalists. His “Departure of the Israelites for the Holy Land” 1841 records the departure of the Jews of Algiers for Palestine shortly after the French conquest. There they will be called the “Moghrabis”.

Thomas Seddon (1821-1856)

One of the best British landscape painters of his generation connected to the Pre-Raphaelite movement. He travelled in Egypt and the Holy land with William Holman Hunt in the 1850’s going “native”, learning Arabic and living in Bedouin tents.

Gustave Bauerfeind (1848-1904)

Lately rediscovered German artist who settled in Palestine in 1896 after travelling frequently in the Middle East in the previous decade. His Middle Eastern watercolors are among the most accurate and detailed of street scenes and local types of the turn of the century.

Alexandre Bida (1823-1895)

A student of Delacroix’ and a committed Orientalist, who first visited Constantinople in 1847. In 1861 after having met Ernest Renan, first ”biographer” of Christ he worked on an illustrated bible for Hachette. His oeuvre is essentially composed of drawings.

Vassily Vereshchagin (1842-1904)

First Russian 19th century artist to acquire an international reputation, Vereshchagin, was an inveterate traveler. Inspired by Gerôme’s paintings in Paris he visited Syria and, Palestine and Egypt on several occasions in the 1860’s and 1880’s.

Horace  Vernet (1789-1863)

Son and grandson of celebrated 18c landscape painters, Horace, is best known as a battle painter. He was, however part of the first French photographic expedition to the Middle East in the 1840’s which inspired him to paint a number of Biblical scenes in the new “Arabized” manner, considered more authentic, of the 19th century.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)

Dutch artist who settled in London and went on to become in many ways the British Gerôme. He specialized in meticulous reconstitutions of the ancient or biblical worlds using the latest archeological finds for his rendering of ancient architecture, furniture and costume.

William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)

Founding member of the British Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Holman Hunt was also the most intensely religious artist of the group. He spent long periods in the Middle East in the 1850’s and 1870’s, settling in Jerusalem in order to totally absorb, the atmosphere of the Holy land for his Biblical pictures. His colors have an almost hallucinatory quality and his forms an extreme linear sharpness.

James Tissot (1836-1902)

Better known for his paintings of elegant society young women this French artist, friend of Degas, who had a brilliant professional career in London was also drawn to the Bible. He produced a famous set of 356 gouaches and watercolors of biblical figures and scenes in 1896-1902 after visiting Palestine and the Middle East in 1886. They were produced in the detailed documentary style made fashionable by Ernest Renan, using contemporary Arab architecture and costume to evoke more “authentically” Biblical times.


Henri Lehmann (1814-1882)

Neo-classical artist, pupil of Ingres, of German origin he produced many salon-style mythological and biblical pictures and portraits.


Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889)

French salon master celebrated under Napoleon III’s Second Empire. His most famous work was the “Birth of Venus” a highly erotic nude, produced the same year (1863) as Manet’s Olympia.


Henri-Léopold Lévy (1840-1904)

Successful “official” painter of the Second Empire and the Third Republic, pupil of Picot and Cabanel, he is very much part of the first generation of successful Jewish professionals of the later half of the 19th century in France. His success, however, came to an end with the break out of anti-Semitic tensions of the Dreyfus affair.


Gustave Moreau (1826-1898)

Celebrated early Symbolist painter whose “Salome” of 1875 proved one of his most popular compositions, launching the fashion for the most notorious Oriental temptress of the “fin de siècle”. He was most particularly popular with great Jewish collectors like the Rothschilds.


Eduard Julius Friedrich Bendemann (1811-1889)

“On the Banks of the Rivers of Babylon” made the young artist famous when shown in Berlin in 1832. This neoclassical painting in the German Nazarene style of the period became one of the most famous in the German Jewish community and was constantly reproduced and copied as was his “Jeremiah on the ruins of Jerusalem.”


Maurycy Gottlieb (1856-1879)

Gottlieb is a Hungarian painter who died very young (at 23 of pneumonia). He studied in Vienna in the early 1870’s and very soon specialized in Jewish subjects, notably the reinterpretation of Biblical and new Testament  scenes in historically “authentic” Jewish settings.


Lesser Ury (1861-1931)

A soulful Polish painter celebrated by turn of the century Zionists whose “Jerusalem” became an iconic, more up to date and Symbolist representation of Jewish sorrow and nostalgia, the “fin de siècle” equivalent tof Bedemann’s“On the Banks of the Rivers of Babylon”.


Boris Schatz (1867-1932)

Lithuanian artist who studied in Vilnius and Warsaw, and later settled in Bulgaria. With support of Theodor Herzl he founded the Bezalel workshops in Jerusalem in the early 1900’s to promote the renaissance of Jewish arts and crafts in the future Jewish homeland.


Ephraim Moses Lilien (1874-1925)

Best known Jewish illustrator, of the turn of the century, of Polish origins, worked widely for Jewish publishers and press, he created heroic images of biblical figures.


Reuven Rubin (1893-1974)

Romanian artist who first visited Palestine to work in the Bezalel workshops in 1912, later settling permanently in Tel-Aviv in 1923. He brought a distinctively modernist-naïve style to Jewish painting of the 1920’s, exploring local landscape and middle eastern characters. This the period when Zionist artists are consciously trying to create a national style for their new homeland, breaking with 19th century academic traditions but introducing into Palestine features of European 20th century Modernism.


Nahum Gutman (1898-1980)

Gutman moved to Palestine with his parents from his native Russia at the age of 7. His father was a well known publisher of the early Zionist years and he studied art in the Bezalel school and various European capitals in the 1920’s. An idyllic vision of the Orient painted with Modernist (and Rousseau-ist) simplifications constitutes the basis of his style.


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