02 November 2008

Odalisques, Circassian Beauties, Sideshows And Victorian Obssessions

"Reclining Odalisque", 1858 Roger Fenton (English, 1819–1869)
Salted paper print from glass negative; 28.5 x 39 cm (11 1/4 x 15 3/8 in.)

The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Anonymous, Joyce and Robert Menschel, Jennifer and Joseph Duke, and Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gifts, 1997 (1997.382.34)


"Fenton made a series of photographs inspired by the Victorian vogue for the exotic trappings of empire, modeled on the harem scenes and odalisques of Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres that he had seen in Paris, and motivated by his desire to elevate the status of photography by tackling themes more frequently treated in painting.

"Reclining Odalisque" is among the quietest pictures in his series. There are no cowering slaves or leering sultans, no music or dancing, few stage props, no narrative tale. The odalisque is simply there, a vision floating in darkness: the exquisite embodiment of Victorian fascination with the exotic and the erotic." via: Metropolitan Museum Of Art, New York.

See also: Circassian Beauties and even more Victorian "Pretend" Odalisques over yonder at SideShow World
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