Dubufe, Lady of the Harem
Orientalist painting is categorized as a stereotypical depiction of a Westerner's perception of the Eastern culture. Here we get a view of a young woman lounging in a harem, a room typically found in wealthy Islamic homes. The woman here is lounging in a comfortable position with one of her jeweled slippers falling off of her foot. In her hand she is holding a book that she is seemingly consumed in, ignoring all the luxuries surrounding her.
We as an observer of this scene are invited to experience her escape, for the book appears to be the light source of the painting, drawing the eye of the viewer directly to her gaze.
History records that most women were not educated, much less granted time to themselves. The fact that she is partaking in such actions is a hint at the fact that a Westerner had created this image from what was known of the Western culture, while adding in his own details. In the upper left corner of the piece, what appears to be a dark mass is in actuality a window. This is a curious representation since plated glass windows were not typical of Eastern cultures as it was in the West. One can only wonder now if she actually is in an Islamic home, or escaping to one.
Interpretive texts prepared by students in Dr. Christopher Balaschak 's Art History II courses: Alex Ferrara, Gabrielle Hekhuis, Porsha Jones, Ariana Mea
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