The Lure of the Exotic: Orientalism in Europe

The Occidental world's fascination with Orientalism began in the 16th century with Turquerie, the imitation of Turkish art and culture. Europe's Age of Discovery had provided access to the commodities and products from the Ottoman Empire and their art, textiles, costumes, interiors and architecture all became popular in the West. In the 18th and 19th centuries the European tastes expanded to the Arabian Peninsula, Northern Africa and Western Asia. French artists such as Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Jean-Léon Gérôme depicted sensual visions of fantasy odalisques in seraglios and European women in "oriental" costume. Moorish style continued into the 20th century with the design and decorative arts of Italian Carlo Bugatti. Using geometric and organic shapes executed in vellum, white and yellow metals, light and ebony woods, he created unique furniture fit for any harem.