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The following questions may be used in conjunction with any of the art works presented in this segment in order to stimulate and facilitate classroom discussion and critical thinking:

  1. Look at the way the veil is styled in each image. What effect does the veil—worn, discarded, pushed to the side—have on the way we see the female figure?
  2. How do artists use other objects—light, curtains, doors, shadows, etc. as “veils” or suggest veiling in the images?
  3. Many of the Orientalist art works were created during European colonial expansion in North Africa and the Middle East. In what way do you imagine these paintings could be used to promote the idea of European superiority (and by extension, “Oriental” inferiority)?
  4. How have modern artists, such as Lalla Essadyi and Shadi Ghadirian, used elements of Orientalist paintings and photography to re-create the image of veiled women in new ways?
  5. Using what you have learned, identify and discuss Orientalist motifs in the images in each group of “Supplementary Images for Further Discussion” below.


Supplementary Images for Further Discussion

Ingres, 1839-40

Odalisque with Female Slave (1839-40)

Jean-Dominique Ingres (French 1780-1867). Harvard Art Museum/Fogg Museum.

Chasseriau, 1854

Moorish Woman Leaving the Bath of the Seraglio (1854)

Theodore Chassériau (French, years). Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg.

Clairin, 1875

Outside the Harem (1875)

Georges Clairin (French, 1843-1919). Location unknown.

de Croix-Mesnil, 1893

Portrait of Two Mahometan Women from Femmes d’Orient (1893)

Comtesse de Croix-Mesnil ( years ). Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Colonial Harem

Young Bedouin Girl (year)

The Colonial Harem

The Colonial Harem

Young Girl from the South (year)

The Colonial Harem

The Colonial Harem

Young Kabyle (year)

The Colonial Harem











Bibliography for Veiling in Art Section

Alloula, Malek. The Colonial Harem. Manchester University Press: ND, 1987.

Archer, Isabella. “(Re)Envisioning Orientalist North Africa: Exploring Representations of Maghrebian Identities in Oriental and Occidental Art, Museums, and Markets. Intersections online, Fall 2010.

Bailey, David A. and Gilane Tawadros. Veil: Veiling, Representation, and Contemporary Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003.

Essaydi, Lalla. Converging Territories: Essay and Interview with Amanda Carlson. New York, NY: PowerHouse Books, 2005.

Estrin, James. “Unwilling Subjects in the Algerian War.The New York Times (online). 14 May 2010.

Penn, Irving. Worlds in a Small Room. New York: Grossman,1975.

From Delacroix to Kandinsky: Orientalism in Europe: The Exhibition.