The lure of the East

A new exhibition of 19th century British Orientalist paintings opens at Tate Britain
In the Bezestein (The Carpet Seller), 1860, by John Frederick Lewis
In the Bezestein (The Carpet Seller), 1860, by John Frederick Lewis, at The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting, Tate Britain, until 17 August
Sumptuous brocades and silks, screens of delicate wood fretwork and beautiful ceramic tiles. These “oriental” elements are all part of the lure and charm of Eastern interiors.

A new exhibition at Tate Britain collects 110 19th century paintings by artists such as William Holman Hunt and Frederick Leighton, who were so spellbound by this world and its differences to their own that their own homes were influenced by it.

You can visit Lord Leighton’s home, Leighton House in Kensington, today and see for yourself.

The show has images of women in harems, as well as glimpses of the markets and medinas. The artists took great care to portray the architecture and daily life, in cities such as Constantinople (now Istanbul) in meticulous detail.

The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting is at Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1, from 4 June to 31 August 2008. Call 020 7887 8888, or visit www.tate.org.uk.

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