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The Dancing Girl

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


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THE ALMEH.

her whole figure seemed to give way, and she sank on her knees, where she still executed new figures of her balancing, more strange, more erotic, and more picturesque even than the preceding ones. She certainly exhibited an infinite grace in the manner in which she seemed to succumb and abandon herself to these nervous convulsions: it was the suppleness of the serpent joined to the grace of the gazelle." And of the extraordinary effect which this dancing has upon the native audience, and which, if we wait long enough, we may see manifest itself among these swarthy warriors of the picture, he gives this account. Two of their camel-drivers, "blind both of them of the same eye, had doubtless been brought together by this common misfortune, and it was not by chance alone that they found themselves placed side by side in this audience. The araki and the music had already exalted them into a state of preparation for the manifestations they now made of the most noisy beatitude. But when Hasne tumbled on the carpet, like a wounded lioness, their enthusiasm no longer knew any bounds: one of the two seized the head of the other between his hands and swayed it to and fro, keeping time with actual howls of satisfaction; he seemed to wish to twist it off, in order to hurl it at the almeh like a bouquet; and he whose head thus served to beat the measure lent himself to the exercise in a state of most expressive satisfaction. At the close of the scene, the two turbans, from the first very much over the ears of their proprietors, finished by disintegrating in the most unforeseen disorder, exposing to sight the mysterious Makomet or scalp-lock of each inebriate; never was anything so comic as the sight of these two one-eyed men, with naked heads, and embracing each other ecstatically in order, mutually, to express their extreme happiness." No better interpreter can our painting find than this pen-picture of the scene which actually inspired it.



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