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10 December 2023

'Lure of the East' to feature 85 masterpieces

The show aims to promote Sharjah's rich legacy of arts, heritage and culture. (EB FILE)

By Staff Writer

The Sharjah Museums Department will host the "Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting 1830-1925" exhibition at Sharjah Art Museum from tomorrow until April 30.

The event will be held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

The exhibition comes in line with SMD's commitment to support initiatives that bridge cultures and enhance art and cultural relations between the Arab and international world.

The biggest exhibition of its kind in the Middle East region, Lure of the East is organised by Tate Britain in partnership with the British Council - UAE; the Pera Museum - Istanbul, and the Sharjah Art Museum. The touring exhibition was earlier held in the US, UK and Turkey.

Manal Ataya, Director-General, Sharjah Museums Department, said: "Lure of the East comes as part of Sharjah Museums Department's vision to achieve locally and internationally a stronger understanding, appreciation and respect for Sharjah's identity and its cultural heritage.

"The exhibition is part of SMD's efforts to establish the organisation as a premier socio-cultural entity and to maintain strategic partnerships with international institutions for promoting dialogue through art and culture."

"We are pleased to partner with Tate Britain and the British Council, UAE, the official organisation that strengthens the United Kingdom's cultural relations with other countries. We believe art plays a vital role in bridging the cultural gaps between different nations," added Ataya.

"Several countries in the Middle East expressed interest in hosting the exhibition, but Sharjah seemed to us to provide an especially suitable context. "Its cultural programmes, museums and exhibitions are consistently impressive, and Sheikh Sultan, is personally an expert in the fields of 18th and 19th century history that lie at the heart of the exhibition's subject matter," said Stephen Deuchar, Director, Tate Britain.

"The British Council is delighted to partner with the Sharjah Museums Department and Tate Britain in this stunning exhibition of British Orientalist paintings.

"The artwork constitutes an important artistic and historical record of cultural engagement between East and West in earlier centuries," said Michel Bechara, Director of Projects, British Council, the UAE.

"We hope that it will encourage dialogue around cultural themes that are of as much relevance today as in those times, and the exhibition forms an exciting element of the British Council's Cultural Relations activities in the UAE and in the wider Middle Eastern region," added Bechara.

Lure of the East is a showcase of works of art by Orientalist artists of international acclaim. The exhibition features paintings of the Orient by British artists ranging from the 18th to the 19th centuries.

Orientalist painting derived its subject matter from the diverse peoples and places of what the British called the Orient, an area that roughly corresponds to present-day Turkey, Syria, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria.

Bringing together over 85 masterpieces from collections around the world, Lure of the East will include major works by celebrated British painters such as William Holman Hunt, Richard Dadd, Lord Leighton, John Frederick Lewis and David Roberts. It will also bring together several rarely seen works from private collections.

Paintings from internationally renowned museums and institutions will also be exhibited in the Middle East for the first time.

Some of these contributing institutions and museums are Tate, Yale Centre for British Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, Qatar Museums Authority, National Gallery of Scotland, Harris Museum and Art Gallery and the British Museum.

The Sharjah Museums Department, established in 2006 by Dr Sheikh Sultan, aims to promote the emirate's rich legacy of arts, heritage and culture.