Painting the Theatre of the East

“Painting the Theatre of the East: Orientalist Painters and the 19th-Century European Theatre.” Middle East Critique, Vol 18, Issue 1, March 2009.


The connections between 19th-century painters, primarily British and French, and the history of the European stage are far more concrete, such as, for example, the large number of Orientalist painters who worked as scene designers in theatres before and after traveling to the East; the scenes they painted based on operas and other literary works with Eastern themes; the various forms of performance from the Arab and Islamic world snake charmers, dancers, religious ceremonies, storytellers, etc.—that served as subjects for their paintings; and, finally, the fact that a number of French Orientalist painters, after their return from the East to Paris, converted their studios into Eastern stage sets full of clothes, weapons, books and other objects they had collected in the Arab world. (from p. 13-4)