An Orientalist Gesamtkunstwerk?

An Orientalist Gesamtkunstwerk?


April 25, 2017

5:30 PM-6:30 PM

Michael Conforti Pavilion

Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor Mary Roberts presents "An Orientalist Gesamtkunstwerk? Frederic Leighton's Arab Hall."

Throughout his career British artist Lord Frederic Leighton traveled extensively across the Near East amassing an exceptional collection of Islamic art. Distancing himself from prevailing conventions of realism in nineteenth-century British Orientalism, Leighton insisted he was no ‘painter of Bedouins.’ The Arab Hall in his home in Holland Park, London, where he installed his collection, is the preeminent creation of his orientalist aestheticism.

In this lecture Roberts reconsiders the role of Islamic art in this semi-public interior, assessing how diverse sources from around the Mediterranean (including the Arab-inspired twelfth-century Norman palace of La Zisa in Palermo and historic tomb interiors in the former Ottoman capital Bursa) came to inspire this modern interior.

Mary Roberts is Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor 2015-2017 in the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, and the John Schaeffer Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. Roberts is a scholar of late Ottoman art and European Orientalism who has written extensively about patterns of transcultural exchange in the nineteenth century. Her most recent book, Istanbul Exchanges: Ottomans, Orientalists and Nineteenth-Century Visual Culture, received the 2016 Best Book prize from the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand. At the Clark she is working on her next book on artists as collectors of Islamic art in the nineteenth century.