Robert Irwin for The Times Literary Supplement reviews Shafik Gabr's book, 'Masterpieces of Orientalist Art.'
Irwin provides a brief history of Orientalism and how the art of this time "seemed to open a window on a vanishing world". He explores reasons why there was a decline in enthusiasm for Orientalist art, and the recent upsurge in interest. As Mr Gabr comments, Orientalist art is essential to illustrate "the richness and value of our culture".
Irwin summarises his article by explaining: "In the early nineteenth century, Orientalist painters had played an important role in breaking away from the traditionally grand subject matters of academic painting, comprising history, mythology and religion. Moreover, for the most part the Orientalists eschewed the sentimentality, moralizing and storytelling that were characteristic of so much Victorian painting. It is easy to miss what was once as excitingly modern Orientalism."