x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Louvre Abu Dhabi acquires 18th century artworks

Four 18th century artworks presented by the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the latest instalment of its Talking Art Series

ABU DHABI // Four 18th century artworks have been acquired by the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and were presented in the latest instalment of its Talking Art series last night at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Saadiyat Island.

Three of the pieces were inspired by fantastical visions of the Far East.

The Emperor Sailing was produced in the Beauvais Royal Manufactory by the early 18th century and is a tapestry depicting the Chinese emperor Shun Xi taking a pleasure ride in a junk.

The work is signed by Philippe Behagle, who probably never visited China and invented elements of the scene from imagination.

Speaking last night, Peter Fuhring, an art historian and adviser at the Fondation Custodia in France, emphasised the exotic character of the arts of this period.

This imagined East today carries notions of Orientalism, a theory of how colonial power was exerted through representations of the Orient, which came to prominence in the late 1970s in the writings of the Palestinian theorist Edward Said.

"It's difficult to apply Said's ideas to the 18th century because the world was far more balanced at that time," said Olivier Gabet, the curatorial deputy director at Agence-France Museums.

He said the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection also held works from the 19th century, which approached the subject more directly.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is scheduled to open in 2015, and is a development by the Tourism Development and Investment Company.

clord@thenational.ae