Introduction to Orientalism: Orientalism is a term that refers to the Orient i.e. the East, in reference to the Occident i.e. the West. Orientalism is the study of cultures, peoples, and languages of Eastern societies as viewed by Western scholars. In particular, it has been used to refer to works of 19th-century scholars, especially British and French, in literature and arts that were reflections of their interpretation of Eastern societies, which they had developed as a result of their travels to the East.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, a scholar who specialised in the literature and languages of Eastern societies was called ‘Orientalist’. In the field of art, the term Orientalism was used to refer to the works of Western artists who had traveled to Western Asia and were producing works on Oriental subjects by taking inspiration from their travels. Introduction to Orientalism
During the 19th century, Europe was fascinated by the ‘Orient’. Events that were taking place in the region, during this time, greatly influenced the works of Western writers and artists. The phenomenon was initiated with Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt in 1798. Orientalist paintings during the beginning of the 19th century were made to do propaganda to support French imperialism.