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The Moorish Bath

Earl Shinn ["Edward Strahan"], Gerome: A Collection of the works of J.L Gerome in One Hundred Photogravures. Multiple Volumes. New York: Samuel L. Hall, 1881.

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Art & Architecture


FOR all his fertility of invention, M. Gerome is fond of occasionally grazing one of his victims several times, a dozen variations on one theme, possibly as an opportunity of exhibiting the versatility of his skill, like Paganini's concerted piece on one string. Among these subjects of his predilection is the ingenious presentation of Eastern women in the bath-houses, and indeed the contrast of graceful, warm-tinted nudity and the coolness of color and largeness of space in those vaulted marble halls, with the occasional and exceeding blackness of the Nubian slaves to give an accent, this contrast and harmony is enough to tempt a painter; and the skill of this particular painter is such that we are not at all troubled by the reflection that neitherhe nor any other man ever actually saw this Moorish lady at her luxurious ablutions. We may be sure that by a skilful combination of chosen models and studies of interiors the painter obtained data for something exceedingly like the scene he chose to illustrate. And it may be said that the shrinking and doubtful glanceof this slender young woman is much more like that of a beauty unaccustomed to finding herself uncovered even in privacy, than like that of the professional model, to whom her habit of nudity becomes almost as much a matter of indifference as to our lady mother Eve. An evidence of the painter's distinction, which a surprisingly large number of his fellow-craftsmen entirely miss, is this supposition of a native timidity in undraped womanhood. In the East, the hammam, or bath, is a favorite resort of both men and women of all classes among the

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