Reading little augury's posts featuring the painter Jean Etienne Liotard (1702-1789) here and here, it reminded me how the fascination with orientalism ran and ran. In the collective European imagination the Turkish and North African 'Orient', has long been a site of fantasy. The louche harem dress and those lounging poses must have been dynamite to the tightly-buttoned 19th century armchair travellers and dreamers.
Eugene Delacroix's Women of Algiers 1834, The Louvre
Henri Matisse combined modernism with the tradition of the salon painters in his matchless series of odalisques. I suspect these paintings arrived from a collision between his love of the female form and his lifelong involvement with textiles, which will be the subject of a later post. Meanwhile I brighten up a dull day with these stunning paintings and drawings.
Seated Odalisque 1926, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Small Odalisque in a Purple Robe 1937, Private Collection
The Lamé Robe 1932, Yale University Art Gallery
Odalisque with Yellow Persian Robe and Anemones 1937, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Large Odalisque with Bayadere Costume1925, Victoria and Albert Museum
'Odalisque' : 'a female slave or concubine in a harem, especially one in the seraglio of the sultan of Turkey.' It derives from the Turkish word oda - chamber and lik - function.
All Matisse images from Matisse - His Art And Textiles pub. Royal Academy of Arts 2005