The painting on the banner of this blog is part of one by Jean-Leon Gerome, a French Academic painter whose success was at its height just prior to the advent of the Impressionists.

His work is scattered all over “Seraglio Letters” for a reason. Gerome painted harems–lots of them. (Seraglio, in case you were wondering, is not what my lover likes to be called–it’s Italian for “harem.”) He painted naked women, glowing, pale and dark, in all sorts of marble baths and cloistered chambers.

Moorish Bath

He was only one of the painters of his day to indulge in “orientalist” fantasies–imagining sex elsewhere, in foreign climes, with slaves and dancing girls, instead of at home, in proper bourgeois Paris. Odalisques are orientalist art–odalisque being a westernized version of a Turkish word for chambermaid.

Where the Impressionists–Manet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, –portrayed the prostitutes of Paris, Gerome painted Turkish and Egyptian women at market, for sale, at the baths . . . and this, along with his disapproval of the Impressionists, made his work a target for modern critics.

Still, he has his admirers. (F’rinstance Ridley Scott finds him inspiring–which counts for something.)  I would not say that I’m a fan, exactly; but when my mind–and possibly yours?–turns to fantasies of auction blocks . . .

The Slave Market

. . . . . and gilded cages . . .

harem-terrace-of-seraglio.jpg

. . . Gerome’s are the settings I see. Today, after all, we might call the below a little girl-on-girl interracial BDSM action . . . or, if more PC, perhaps bisexual power-exchange in a multicultural society. Either way, the purpose is without question to titillate.

How’s it working for you?

Moorish Bath