Monday, 16 June 2008

Victorian Kinkery

Since I'm working on an Arabian Nights novel I've been looking at a lot of Orientalist pictures. And I've got to say I love 'em to bits. European artists in the Nineteenth Century were fascinated by Middle Eastern costume, textiles, light and architecture. They'd paint loads of faux-realistic street scenes, some of them very proper and some not.

Because of course, if you're a victorian artist you only have 3 excuses for painting raunchy nudes: The subject can be historical/mythological. The subject can be allegorical. Or the subject can be Foreign.

Hence a whole load of "slave-market" and "harem" scenes which would have been hung in the most repectable art galleries for public edification but were in fact quite gloriously dirty. BDSM in early guise, in many cases. Huzzah!

This one from 1866 is called "Slave Market" or sometimes "For Sale" and is by Jean-Leon Gerome. (Lots of his pictures here in high definition.)
I'll be posting some more orientalist pics from time to time.


Nikki Magennis said...

Oh boy, I remember writing an essay on the subject at art school! Did you see, by the way, 'Victorian Sex Explorer' on channel 4? About Richard Burton? Rupert Everett dirty-laughing all the way through ...

Janine Ashbless said...

I loved that documentary - and got a total crush on Rupert Everett! Now wish I was a gay man.

I'd love to read that essay!