Art of The Islamic World: “Orientalism” Essay

Art of The Islamic World: “Orientalism” Essay

Art of The Islamic World: “Orientalism”

Do you agree with the author, Edward Said, that images of non-European cultures are “Othered?” (to be an outsider of the dominant culture). Please use the image of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, The Grand Odalisque, 1814 and Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Snake Charmer, 1870 as reference images.

            The work of Edward Saïd in 1978 on “Orientalism” created a notion that Westerners (Occident) depict the East as the Orient to control and subjugate them. The orientalism paintings are depicted as exotic and an authentic glimpse of a location. The depiction of exotic is a racial, feminine, and sexual notion that the “Westerners” depict on non-Europeans (Saïd,1995). The painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Snake Charmer, 1870 has been depicted as a normal public scene that is practiced in the “Orient”. The painting depicts a naked snake charmer youth In-front of an audience with an old man playing flute. The audience seemed to be charmed by the scene and this has created a notion that such a scene is a normal occurrence in the East.

Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Snake Charmer, 1870. Source-

            The painting by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, The Grand Odalisque, 1814 has been depicted as an exotic glimpse of the East to depict femininity and sexuality. The nude feminine painting is set in a magnificent interior with exotic jewelry and objects. The image was set to show sexuality but its interpretation by the “Westerners” has only linked it to the East as their normal expression of eroticism in public by using exotic scenes and objects.

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, The Grand Odalisque, 1814. Source-

Please list three-five examples of “orientalism” in the above images.

  1. The beautiful tiles behind the audience on the Snake charmer painting have been depicted as exotic.
  2. The enormous pearls on The Grand Odalisque depict the exotic expression of sexuality in which the “Western” claim to know better in expressing it than the East.
  3. The peacock fan on The Grand Odalisque has been depicted as an expression of exotic sexuality that is erotic and best practiced in the East.
  4. The pipe of hashish perhaps used with opium creates a notion that opium smoking is a norm in the East.
  5. The two paintings have also been spectacularly done with a great impression and clear indication of exotic as expressed by the “Westerners” and this is categorized as racism.


Edward W. Said. (1985). Orientalism Reconsidered. Cultural Critique, (1), 89-107. doi:10.2307/1354282

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