The Middle East captured the imaginations of French and British painters during a nineteenth century movement called Orientalism. Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1798 campaign into Egypt drew European attention to the region, and the architecture, decorative arts and fashions of the Middle East came into vogue in France and England. Painters were attracted to the vibrant colors and opulent exoticism present in the culture, while also taking the opportunity to add a greater degree of authenticity to traditional biblical scenes. Orientalist paintings thrilled European viewers by giving them a window into places they might never see with their own eyes.
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