An Analysis of "The Snake Charmer" by Jeon-Leon Gerome and "The Blue Lotus" by Herge, their views of how the Occidentals viewed the Orient.

Topics: Western world, Orientalism, The Adventures of Tintin Pages: 18 (3477 words) Published: April 16, 2014
SAE Institute Oxford

An Analysis of ‘The Snake Charmer’ by Jean-Leon Gerome and ‘The Blue Lotus’ by Herge, their views of how the Occidentals viewed the Orient.

Clemens Khoo
Qualification: BA / BSc (Honors) Degree Date of Submission: 23rd August 2013 Word Count: 3301


The Orient till this day, continues to mystify and amaze us as well as strike fear in our hearts. From Disney cartoons such as Aladdin to portrayals of Arab terrorist in movies. Arabic peoples portrayed as terrorists has become such a reliable villain in Hollywood movies.

Media has played such a strong role in influencing what people conceive of a particular culture. Thanks to this, we have a pre-conceived image in our heads when someone else would talk about terrorists. But what exactly is the truth? Looking back, when technology has not been advanced, the only media available would be print media or through the eyes of painters such as Antoine Jean Gros, who was commissioned by Napolean to paint pictures of his conquests in Egypt.

In this essay, the author aims to analyze the works of Jean-Leon Gerome and Georges Prosper Remi, and their depictions of the ‘Other’ and the idea of Orientalism where an idea of what the east is like, interpreted by western eyes. How these two works have come to represent the contemporary view of how the Occidentals viewed the Orient.

Jean-Leon Gerome

Jean-Leon Gerome was born in Vesoul, France in 1824. He was a French painter and sculptor famous for his style of painting currently known as Academicism. His work ranges from historical paintings, Greek mythology, Orientalism and portraits. He went to Paris in 1840 where he studied under Paul Delaroche, who in turn was a student of Antoine-Jean Gros. He tried to enter the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1846 but was not successful due to his figure drawing being inadequate. (Cabrera, A 2010)

In 1847, Gerome did a painting of young Greeks holding a cockfight which was his first salon entry. This work gained him a third-class medal for his attention to quality, detail and subject matter, which boosted his popularity significantly. (ibid)

Gerome would construct his career in the arts on subjects from antiquity and the middle East. Nearly half of his paintings were Orientalist in nature according to Gerald Ackerman who was his biographer. He also had constant commissions from the government that helped build his career. (ibid)

In 1857, Gerome visited Egypt for the first time, with many more visits to come in his lifetime. His paintings were relatively popular at the salons enabling him to command handsome prices for his works. Eventually he stopped taking commissions due to his success where it freed him to pursue his own interest as opposed to his patrons. (ibid)

Jumping to the 1870s, where the movement of impressionism was developing. Gerome was an outspoken opponent to the impressionists. He saw it as a lowering of artistic standards, where it lead to the public having an impression that Gerome was becoming outdated. (ibid)

Gerome passed in January 1904. In the following years, he was nearly swept under the rug of obscurity and in the 1950s, his paintings were almost contemptible. In 1942, an auction house sold one of Gerome’s work, “The Snake Charmer” at a mere $500. (Finkel, J 2010)

Georges Prosper Remi

Georges Prosper Remi, known by his pen name Herge was a cartoonist from Belgium. He is best known for his most significant work in creating The Adventures of Tintin series, which started from 1929 till his passing in 1983. There are a total number of 23 completed comic books in the series which are all influential in the current affairs of the season in which they were created.

Herge was born to a lower middle class family in Etterbeek, Brussels and grew up a fervent Catholic. He found his childhood overshadowed by a monochrome gray, which can be inferred to as...
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