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The Orientalist style of art and design originated in the 19th Century, and refers to the European portrayal of Eastern cultures and traditions through visual, literary and other artistic mediums. In particular, the Orientalist movement found popularity among French painters, many of whom had travelled to the exotic lands of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia and become entranced by the peoples and traditions encountered there. Today, Orientalist art is often portrayed negatively, accused of doing little other than glorifying European Imperialism in supposedly undeveloped Oriental countries. While true that much 19th Century Orientalist artwork presents a stereotyped and artificial portrait of Eastern culture, this was not necessarily the aim of those European artists responsible for such works. Instead, painters, writers and thinkers wished to capture the colourful and sensual beauty of these lands, which their creations brilliantly do.
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