In arthistory, the term orientalism refers to the works of the Western artists who specialized in oriental subjects, produced from their travels in Western Asia during the late 19th century. The formation of the French Orientalist Painters Society changed the shape of practitioners toward the end of the 19th century.
In fine art, the term Orientalist Painting refers to the depiction of people in present day in the countries of Greece, Turkey, and North Africa, or the Middle East, by painters from the West. This form of Orientalism has roots in Renaissance art. Generally, there are two types of Orientalists. These include the realists who carefully painted what they observed and those who imagined Orientalist scenes without ever leaving the studio.
Delacroixs sardanapalus also contains notions of the oriental. darker skinned figures line the shadows accompanied by exotic animals. the animalistic nature of the figures and the blatant sexuality would remind any european viewer of the immoral oriental. in this sense, the painting seems to serve as a moral checkpoint for westerners. it is a reminder that we are civilized and they are not. europeans who looked at this painting would immediately judge the oriental as disorganized, insensitive (as sardanapalus appears), barbaric, etc. at the same time though, viewers cannot escape the curiosity associated with the oriental. as discussed in both confessions of an opium-eater and orientalism, the oriental carries a degree of mystery and sublimity for the westerner. there is no doubt that this painting elicits both wonder and fear, both for the 19th century and the modern viewer.romanticism.