Oil on canvas 73 X 100 cm

In Moorish architecture, one of the harem's guardians presents a new odalisque to two women sitting on a sofa smoking hookah.

Contrary to the majority of paintings showing the presentation of an odalisque, our scene is situated outside, whereas usually the young woman is always represented in a closed interior, the anteroom of the harem. Here we have the crucial moment when the young woman is torn away from her family and sold to become an odalisque.

In the imagination of Western artists, the figure of the odalisque is associated with a fantasy world of pleasure and sensuality. As Baudelaire says, what emanates from these women is a state suspended between dream and reality, between "luxury, calm and pleasure".

Orientalism is both a literary and pictorial Western trend. It has its roots in the 18th century with the Turkish fantasies. Orientalist painters, without ever having set foot in the East, painted what they imagined, including harems.

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