L'odalisque à l'éventail by Léon François Comerre

  • This stunning Orientalist scene is the work of French Academic painter Léon François Comerre
  • Entitled L'odalisque à l'éventail, it depicts an alluring woman against an opulent, lush backdrop
  • The Near East became a source fascination for 19th-century Europeans, and Orientalism emerged
  • Comerre was was one of the most accomplished and sought after artists of the Orientalist genre
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-3742

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Léon François Comerre
1850-1916 | French

L'odalisque à l'éventail
(The Odalisque with the Fan)


Signed "Léon Comerre" (upper left)
Oil on canvas

Combining the brilliance of Near East costume and decoration with the Academic painting tradition, French artist Léon François Comerre showcases his aptitude for the Orientalist genre in this skillfully executed oil on canvas. In it, a beautiful and exotically dressed woman languidly fans herself against the backdrop of a lush and intricately detailed interior of contrasting pattern and color. The serenity of the scene, coupled with Comerre’s robust color palette and overall dexterity of technique, make this an eloquent specimen of 19th-century Orientalist art.

Growing up in the town of Lille in northern France, Comerre demonstrated an interest and a talent for painting early on, and he began training at a young age. He studied under Alphonse Colas at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lille before a scholarship allowed him to move to Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts, as well as in the studio of Alexandre Cabanel. It was there where he was exposed to Orientalism, the genre that would come to dominate his oeuvre. He began exhibiting at the Salon in 1871, winning awards in 1875 and 1881, and in 1875 he won the prestigious Prix de Rome. He later exhibited in the Exposition Universelle in Antwerp, the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters — successes that placed him in high demand as a society portraitist. He also would become a Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1903.

As a result of colonialism and increased intercontinental trade and travel, eastern cultures became a source of fascination for 19th-century Westerners. Many Academic artists, including Comerre, shared that fascination and capitalized on the allure of the Near East, and Orientalism emerged as a popular painting genre in Europe. The movement was marked by images of marketplaces bustling with people in exotic dress, voyeuristic scenes of harems in bathhouses and beautiful women lounging in opulent, lush interiors. These scenes were largely created for Western audiences, and Comerre often incorporated eastern imagery into his portrait commissions. His delicate portraiture, combined with his skill for conveying contrasting textures and intricate tile motifs, demonstrate why he was one of the most accomplished artists of the Orientalist genre.

Late 19th century

Canvas: 46 5/8" high x 30 3/4" wide
Frame: 64" high x 48" wide
L'odalisque à l'éventail by Léon François Comerre
Period: 1816-1918
Origin: France
Type: Paintings
Depth: 3.75 Inches
Width: 48.0 Inches
Height: 64.0 Inches
Style: Academic
Canvas Width: 30.75 Inches
Canvas Height: 46.625 Inches

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