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Among the more remarkable crosscurrents affecting the development of European painting in the 19th and early 20th centuries was the influence of the exotic cultures of the Middle East and North Africa. Initiated by Napoleon's incursion into Egypt in 1798, European artists (both visitors and stay-at-homes) seized on this non-European world to enrich their imaginations and palettes. Peltre's (history of contemporary art, Universite des Sciences Humaines, Strasbourg, France) scintillating overview of Orientalism concentrates largely on the French response but also reaches out to an equally telling but briefer consideration of English, German, Italian, and American work. Without slighting the impact of European imperial ventures, political events, and literary influences, the author convincingly structures her historical synthesis within the broader contours and conventions of European painting. In addition, there are vivid characterizations of works by acknowledged masters like Delacroix, Ingres, and Matisse as well as due consideration of almost innumerable lesser lights like Lewis, Fromentin, and Gerome. Although the sculptural and architectural ramifications of Orientalism are neglected, the excellent text and the plethora of exquisitely reproduced but unfamiliar images are reason enough to acquire this splendid volume.?Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology, New York
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