The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting, 1830–1925

Thursday, February 7, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting focused on the dynamic relationship between nineteenth-century British artists and the Islamic world of the Near and Middle East. In other large-scale exhibitions and publications exploring the theme of Orientalism in the visual arts, British art has typically played a supporting role to that of other countries. In contrast, this exhibition asked what was unusual about the British experience of the “Orient” during various moments of East-West contact, and how the particular traditions of British art were developed in these contexts. It also addressed the question of Orientalist painting as it exists in the world today, in the wake of Edward Said’s profoundly influential book Orientalism (1978). Through exceptional and rarely seen works by such artists as John Frederick Lewis, Edward Lear, David Wilkie, Richard Dadd, William Holman Hunt, and Frederic, Lord Leighton, as well as representative works by many less familiar names, the exhibition explored the major genres, themes, and preoccupations of Orientalist painting. In addition to sections on portraits, genre painting, and landscapes, the exhibition included sections focusing on the harem and on religious sites.

Organized by Tate Britain in partnership with the Center, the British Council, the Pera Museum, and the Sharjah Art Museum, The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting was curated by Nicholas Tromans, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Kingston University, London. The organizing curators were

John Frederick Lewis, A Lady Receiving Visitors (The Reception) (detail), 1873, oil on panel, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

Christine Riding, Curator of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Art at Tate Britain, and, at the Center, Eleanor Hughes, Postdoctoral Research Associate, with the assistance of Jo Briggs, Postdoctoral Research Associate, and Julia Marciari Alexander, Associate Director for Exhibitions and Publications.

Yale Center for British Art:
February 7–April 27, 2008

Tate Britain, London:
June 4–August 31, 2008

Suna and İnan Kiraç Foundation Pera Museum,
Istanbul, Turkey: September 26, 2008–January 11, 2009

Sharjah Art Museum, United Arab Emirates:
February 18–April 30, 2009