Posted by: Valentino Radman | September 24, 2012

Dalmatian Coastline painting, 1890

The Belvedere Museum in Vienna is hosting an exhibition titled “Orient & Occident – Austrian Artists travelling East”.

The exhibition assembles works by painters who in the nineteenth century set out for faraway countries in order to seek new artistic challenges. Initially, the motifs were chosen for their documentary significance and described with great precision. Yet gradually, the paintings and drawings also reflected the visual charm of the foreign regions, the pictorial translation of sunlight, and the rendering of heat, as well as the changes brought about by these phenomena in the natural landscape.

Orientalism actually refer to the works of the many Western 19th century artists (not only painters and sculptors), who specialized in “Oriental” subjects, often drawing on their travels to Near East, North Africa and Western Asia. Orientalism was particularly popular in France, where  Société des Peintres Orientalistes was founded in 1893.

One of the “Orient & Occident” exhibition’s highlights is Emil Jakob Schindler’s  Küstenlandschaft in Dalmatien (Dalmatian Coastline), painted in 1890. For European and American artists in 19th and early 20th century Dalmatia (southern region of Croatia) was effectively as exotic as the Near Eastern countries. Check for instance this illustration  of Ernest Peixotto, American journalist and artist who travelled extensively through Europe, and – particularly – Mediterranean countries and sketched his trips for various American magazines.)

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