Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Scene de Hammam (1883)

Edouard Debat-Ponsan: Le Massage. Scene de Hammam

This scene of hammam [a Moroccan steam room, similar to a Turkish bath] illustrates the great orientalist vogue of the nineteenth century. Debat-Ponsan executed this painting just one year after a journey he had made in the East, as is shown by the precision of certain details of his composition. The moment of the massage, here evoked, is a stage of the body care practiced in this type of place. A bather, depicted as a white woman, is lying on a march of gray marble; A black woman half dressed and wearing a sort of turban pulls on her left arm. As in the scenes of the hammam of Gérome, Debat-Ponsan insists on the contrast between the body of the black model which appears tense, rough and muscular, evoking the daily labor, and that of the swimmer with the gentle pattern, the milky skin and To the languid position. It must not be forgotten that this exotic scene is only a clever excuse to paint an erotic nude in all impunity where the white woman assumes an idealized character. [Musée des Augustins]

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