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  • The Sahara.

    GUILLAUMET Gustave (1840 - 1887)

  • Weavers in Bou-Saada.

    GUILLAUMET Gustave (1840 - 1887)

  • Falcon hunting in Algeria, the quarry.

    FROMENTIN Eugène (1820 - 1876)

  • Pilgrims going to Mecca.

    BELLY Léon (1827 - 1877)

To close

Title: The Sahara.

Author : GUILLAUMET Gustave (1840 - 1887)

Creation date : 1867

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 110 - Width 200

Technique and other indications: also known as The Desert Oil on canvas

Storage place: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Blot / J. Schormans website

Picture reference: 94DE53359 / RF 91

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Schormans

To close

Title: Weavers in Bou-Saada.

Author : GUILLAUMET Gustave (1840 - 1887)

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 95 - Width 112

Technique and other indications: formerly said wrongly: Spinners in Bou-Saâda Oil on canvas

Storage place: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. G. Ojedasite web

Picture reference: 93DE150 / RE 2829

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. Ojeda

To close

Title: Falcon hunting in Algeria, the quarry.

Author : FROMENTIN Eugène (1820 - 1876)

Creation date : 1862

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 45 - Width 85.5

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage place: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. Ojedasite web

Picture reference: 96DE22368 / RF87

Falcon hunting in Algeria, the quarry.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - R. Ojeda

To close

Title: Pilgrims going to Mecca.

Author : BELLY Léon (1827 - 1877)

Creation date : 1861

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 161 - Width 242

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas

Storage place: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Schormans website

Picture reference: 84EE7 / RF 61

Pilgrims going to Mecca.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - G. Schormans

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

Object of curiosities and fantasies in the XVIIe century and especially in the eighteenthe century, the Orient became "a general concern" (Victor Hugo in the preface of Oriental in 1829) in the XIXe century. As the doors of the East open, exchanges, missions and trips, especially of artists, multiply and give a prodigious impetus to Orientalism.

Image Analysis

On a personal basis or as part of scientific missions, the painters Guillaumet, Belly and Fromentin traveled the Orient, driven by the same desire to discover Oriental life.

If all were struck during their travels by the immensity and natural violence of the desert, it was Guillaumet who offered the most original vision. In The Sahara, only a camel carcass and the mirage of a caravan looming in the distance against a dazzling sun break the emptiness of this impressive expanse of sand where earth and sky meet in horizontal layers of color.

Passionate about Algeria, Guillaumet has mainly focused on describing the daily life of its inhabitants. In Weavers in Bou-Saada, it represents three young girls weaving wool in the half-light of a room in the basement of a Saharan house. Although the facial expressions cannot be distinguished, the canvas suggests the arduous nature of this traditional work.

As for Fromentin, he crisscrossed Algeria with the idea of ​​retracing the life and customs of nomadic tribes. In Falcon hunting in Algeria, the quarry, it chronicles the time when hunters band together to reward the birds of prey with a piece of the beast they have taken. Fascinated by this tradition which subtly mixes hunting and combat, the painter has worked extensively on the rendering of animals, in particular the nervous white stallion, and the characters, even though he attributes to them a knight-like appearance borrowed from the Western Middle Ages.

In Pilgrims going to Mecca, the light-drenched caravan that travels through the desert toward Mecca, the religious center of Islam, is even more startlingly realistic. The scrupulous precision with which Belly treated the camels and especially the characters, both in their faces and in their traditional costumes, gives this painting an almost photographic aspect.


After having been for several centuries a formidable source of imagination for artists in search of exotic subjects, the Orient aroused in them an ethnographic curiosity from the mid-19th century.e century. The confrontation with Eastern civilization, made more direct by the establishment of diplomatic and economic links and by the improvement of travel conditions, in particular led painters to take an interest in the reality of these countries more readily and, for some, even to share the daily life of their populations. Faced with the growing influence of colonization, these painters wanted to bear witness to and help fix the memory of these countries, such as Algeria. Orientalist paintings not only seduced their contemporaries, but above all they enriched the Western outlook on the East.

  • Algeria
  • colonial history
  • exoticism
  • East
  • Orientalism
  • Sahara
  • overseas
  • Turkey


P.JULLIAN The Orientalists Book Office, 1977 S. MONNERET The Orient of painters Nathan, 1989 C. PELTRE The Travel Workshop: Painters in the Orient in the 19th century Gallimard, coll. "The Promeneur", 1995.R.ROSENBLUM Paintings in the Orsay Museum Nathan, 1989. J. THOMPSON, and B. WRIGHT The Life and Work of Eugène Fromentin ACR Edition, 1987.L.THORNTON The Orientalists, traveling painters 1828-1908 ACR Edition, 1983.

To cite this article

Fleur SIOUFFI, "Orientalism"

Video: Edward Said interview 2001


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