Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 - 1904): The Harem in the Kiosk

Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 - 1904): The Harem in the Kiosk

2/26/2021, 3:34:05 PM
Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 - 1904): The Harem in the Kiosk, circa 1870-75, oil on canvas, 76 x 112cm., Private Collection Present painting marks the culmination of a theme which had  absorbed  Gérôme for a decade. Here, a change of palette follows the change in setting. Rather than portray the earth tones of a sunset over the Nile, this work depicts  the  blue-turquoise hues that the artist clearly associated with the waters surrounding Istanbul or the Turkish Iznik-tiled interiors that one can see in works such as our previous post, 'Before the Audience'. The present work arranges the ladies in several groupings beneath an Ottoman kiosk. Against this is the backdrop of a walled city on the Bosphorus or the shores of the Sea of Marmara. Under the awning of the pavilion, a group of veiled ladies and their daughters, chaperoned by a Vizier and a eunuch and guarded by a formidable armed sentry, take the air. The imagined sensuality of the harem, a favourite motif in the West’s imaginary Orient, is merely suggested here. Rather than unveil their charms, Gérôme hides the women beneath their flowing robes and veils and positions them in the background of the composition, partially obscured by the kiosk railing. Standing between us and their world is the guard, who, seemingly about to speak, scrutinises the viewer with a quizzical expression. He wears a Safavid helmet and boasts armaments including a yatagan and pistol around his waist, as well as a spear.

Related posts