West and East, fine art at International Exhibitions
Certainties about the future, based on industrial development and a belief in progress that underpinned the International Exhibitions, did not stop artists, writers, intellectuals or members of the emerging bourgeoisie from looking to the “East” as a place of longing, beauty and inspiration, while the increase in trade enabled more people to own refined and unusual objects. Romantic thought, moreover, tended to search for a distant dimension, both in time, recalling previous historical periods, and space, in the search for the “exotic”. The principles of realism, which were dominant in the mid-19th century, pervaded both trends in different ways. The International Exhibitions appear in general to have excluded cutting-edge artistic expression, which was found in less institutional spaces such as the Salons. There were nonetheless frequent exchanges between the two, and the International Exhibitions reflected the issues of the time to differing degrees.
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The Painting Collection of the The Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Vice Secretary General, National Palaces, Dolmabahçe Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
Oil on canvas
This work (commissioned in 1869 to mark the opening of the Suez Canal) represents an interesting example of an Occidental artist commissioned by an Islamic patron. The huge painting, presented at exhibition held in Vienna in 1873, realistically depicts the religious procession carrying gifts from Cairo to the Ka’aba at Mecca.