i Jean-Léon Gérôme, Bashi-Bazouk, 1868-9, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, metmuseum.org

10 – Fantasies Reframed: Orientalism and its Contexts


Course 10 – Summer School online

Monday 20 June – Friday 24 June
Emily Christensen and Ambra D’Antone

Enrolment for this course has closed

Course description

Orientalist paintings are complex works with a contentious history: a popular genre in 19th– and early 20th-century Europe, they have been variously described as historically significant snapshots of life in ‘the Orient’ and as ideologically constructed fantasies created in the minds and studios of the European artists who painted them. Recent exhibitions, and the growing private and public collections of Orientalism throughout the Islamic world, demonstrate that these works continue to find new audiences. This course is designed to explore Orientalism in its artistic, political and historical contexts and to provide participants with a framework through which to approach and interpret these works. We shall identify and scrutinise recurring motifs (horsemen, harems, odalisques, palm trees, alleyways, arches) and common themes (idleness, sensuality, violence) in the works of Orientalism’s most renowned artists, including Delacroix, Gérôme, Deutsch and Lewis, and in early photography and popular culture. We shall trace Orientalism’s shifting forms and renewed purpose in early modernism, in the works of Renoir, Matisse, Picasso and Kandinsky. Throughout the course we shall also discuss how artists and intellectuals from Turkey and the Levant region responded to Orientalism in painting, expanding notions of the cultural flows that existed between Europe and the lands it referred to as the Orient.

Lecturers’ biographies

Emily Christensen is an Associate Lecturer and PhD candidate at The Courtauld, supervised by Professor Gavin Parkinson. Emily teaches European 19th and 20th century art, and on issues of empire and representation in Orientalism. Her thesis explores the role of ‘the Orient’ in the development of Wassily Kandinsky’s artistic strategies, examining its impact on his development of abstraction, and his contribution to a broader network of Orientalist imagery. Emily has published in The Burlington Magazine, Aesthetica Universalis and has an article forthcoming in Manazir.

Ambra D’Antone is a historian of modern art and historiography. She is a Research Associate of the Bilderfahrzeuge International Research Project, based at The Warburg Institute in London, and an Associate Lecturer at The Courtauld. She is currently completing a PhD with The Courtauld and Tate, with a thesis titled ‘Translating Modernity: Surrealism of the Levant’.