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John Frederick Lewis and the Art of Orientalism
John Frederick Lewis (1804–1876) is one of the best-known yet least understood British Orientalist painters of the 19th century. His numerous, highly detailed Orientalist images stand in dramatic contrast to the meagre written archive of the years he spent in Egypt between 1841 and 1851; art historians have long puzzled over the details of this significant period and struggled for meaningful insight into his process of artful construction. This innovative book, the first critical monograph devoted to this acclaimed artist, draws on both newly uncovered historical data and imperial and post-colonial theory to propose a compelling new interpretation of Lewis’s paintings and biography. In addition to offering formal, historical, and theoretical examinations of Lewis’s highly nuanced subject matter, Weeks argues that Lewis crafted an ambiguous, cross-cultural identity that challenged viewers’ understanding of fact and fiction and, along with his pictures, subverted systems of patriarchal power in England and abroad.
Emily M. Weeks is an independent art historian and consultant for museums, auction houses, and private collectors in America, Europe, and the Middle East.