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Selected Themes for the Grand Tour
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The Colonial East

British and French colonialism facilitated Western exploration of North Africa and the Middle East in the nineteenth century. Some European tourists were drawn to lands such as Egypt and Palestine because of their Biblical heritage. Others were intrigued by the contemporary cultures of the Middle East. Still others hoped to see newly discovered archaeological sites, such as Petra in Jordan and Palmyra in Syria. Although the presumed supremacy of European culture was taken for granted, archaeology had revealed that the histories of Europe and the Middle East were deeply intertwined.  

Artists were among the earliest European tourists in the Middle East. The illustrated Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt by Dominique Vivant Denon, published in 1802, ignited a fad for the "Egyptian" style in Napoleon's France, while prints and photographs by David Roberts and Francis Frith provided other peoples' first encounter with Egyptian monuments.

In the nineteenth century, Orientalism became one of the most ubiquitous genres of European painting. French and British artists specialized in the portrayal–real or imagined–of bazaars, mosques, and harems. Some images focused on the "decadence" of contemporary Middle Eastern society, producing a moralistic commentary on what was seen as cultural decline. Nevertheless, Western artists felt powerfully attracted to the landscapes, architecture, and lifestyles of the Muslim Mediterranean.


Portrait Bust <br />of Dominique Vivant Denon Travels in Sicily and Malta <strong>The Great Square of Tetuan, from the Jews' Town,</strong> from <em>The Tourist in Spain and Morocco</em>
Temple of Dandour [Dendur], Nubia, Entrance to the Tombs of the Kings of Thebes, –Bibán El Molook, December 3, 1838 View of the Temple of Isis at Philae
Interior of the Temple of Edfou [Edfu] <strong>Cairo from the East,</strong> from <em>Lower Egypt, Thebes and the Pyramids</em> <strong>The Pyramids of Dahshoor [Dahshur], from the East,</strong> from <em>Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views by Francis Frith</em>
<strong>The Ramesseum of El-Kurneh, Thebes, Second View,</strong> from <em>Egypt, Sinai, and Jerusalem: A Series of Twenty Photographic Views by Francis Frith</em> Valletta, Malta, from the Grand Harbor An Eastern Lady Asleep
Distant View of the Pyramids at Giza Mr. Weeks' Studio at Rabat (Weeks Painting a Sleeping Camel) Constantinople: The Mosque of Sultan Ahmet
Morocco North African Street Scene Boats on the Nile, Dawn
Harbor Scene (Egypt) Parlor Scene

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