The painters-travelers, who, during the 19th century, went east from Europe to discover exotic worlds and distant cultures, gave birth to the artistic movement of Orientalism. At first painters described an idealized exotic world, but from the mid-19th century artists began to paint in detail what they saw. Alberto Pasini and Roberto Guastalla, orientalists from Parma, were tireless travelers, men open to the knowledge of other cultures and faithful witnesses to the customs and traditions of distant realities.
Turkish fountain (1873) by Alberto PasiniCollezione Fondazione Cariparma
Alberto Pasini, defined by his contemporaries as “the prince of the orientalists”, was a painter following French diplomatic missions in Turkey and Persia.
The painting, set in Constantinople, Istanbul, portrays merchants negotiating the sale of watermelons under the gaze of the guards, while two veiled women, the "Almee", are strolling with parasols.
The scene takes place under a fountain, with its characteristic silver dome that shines in the sunlight, partly hidden by the green foliage of the trees.
In the background the Yeni Djami mosque stands, obscured by the fumes of the sailing ships stationary in the harbour.
A street in Beirut (1894) by Roberto GuastallaCollezione Fondazione Cariparma
Roberto Guastalla made numerous trips to the East, to Africa and to the Balkans.
The painter describes a moment of daily life on one of the sunny streets of Beirut: on the right, the shops of merchants;
on the left, sheltered from the sun, two men smoke a hookah.
A holy man in front of the door of a mosque (1901) by Roberto GuastallaCollezione Fondazione Cariparma
During his travels, Guastalla often used the camera thanks to which he was able to testify the details of the architecture with meticulous rendering.
Rocky landscape with column of camel drivers (1898) by Roberto GuastallaCollezione Fondazione Cariparma
In this painting, the artist focused on the boundless and majestic landscape that appeared to his eyes. Heaven and earth are the backdrop to a caravan of camel drivers.
Caravan (Romania) (1907) by Roberto GuastallaCollezione Fondazione Cariparma
The rocky landscape of Romania is the background of another caravan, the Orsari, which scrambles on a crossing place.
Two young gipsies carry two bears on a leash. It was a tradition among these peoples to train bears to have them perform in dances during shows staged throughout Europe.
Text by Fondazione Cariparma and Artificio Società Cooperativa