The Women of Algiers, Eugene Delacroix, 1834
The Women of Algiers by Eugene Delacroix was painted in 1834 with oil on canvas. This is a romantic era painting. However, it later served as inspiration for impressionist art. Delacroix uses bright and exotic colors. Delacroix has also placed the women in relaxed positions as they lounge on the floor. He also places many exotic items in the room such as a hookah and the wallpaper which both give this painting an exotic tone. Delacroix also uses the light wonderfully and the three women are basking in the rich light. Thematically this painting offers a lot towards the topic of colonialism. The three women in the center are all relaxing on the floor as the African servant waits on them. The woman in the center even has her head turned toward her servant as if giving her an order. Likewise her servant is turning towards her in recognition of her order. It is also clear that western women are dressed in more elegant clothing than their servant. This shows the racism that the Algerians faced from the French. The Algerians were made into servants, and they had no alternative option (Gombrich, see Romantic Era).
The French came to Algeria for economic opportunity. They got the land from the Turkish after a Turkish governor hit a French ambassador. The French used this as leverage to gain control of Algeria. They wanted the land badly because the French government owed an Algerian merchant a large sum of money. However by taking over Algeria, they were no longer responsible for this payment. After occupying Algeria they thought the Algerians were completely barbaric. They also considered the religion of Islam inhuman, as woman had to wear veils in public. They were also revolted by the amount of control a husband had over his wife. After the arrival of the French the Algerian population suffered because of disease and war. As much as one-third of the population died. Also the Algerians lost most of their farmland to the French. (Algeria)
"Eugène Delacroix - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia."Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugène_Delacroix
Gombrich, E. H. The Story of Art. London: Phaidon, 1995. Print.
Posted by Kabir Mohideen