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The black exotic: Tradition and ethnography in nineteenth- century Orientalist art (Jean-Leon Gerome, Charles Cordier).


This study of select works by Orientalist artists Jean- Leon Gerome and Charles Cordier charts the trajectory of the idea of the black exotic and investigates the symbolism of black figures in Orientalist painting and sculpture. Representations of blacks in Orientalist art served a complex and nuanced function as nineteenth- century European artists fashioned the exotic. At the nexus of traditional tropes of blackness and the new science of ethnography, they were a critical tool used to construct an imagined Orient within the context of Orientalism---the phenomenal passion for the exotic in the nineteenth century.