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ROGIER, Camille. La Turquie. Moeurs et usages des Orientaux au XIXème siècle: Scenes de leur vie intérieure et publique, harems, bazars, cafés, bains, danses et musique, costumes &c., Paris, Lemercier, 1847.

The French painter and illustrator Camille Adolphe Rogier (1810-1896) studied drawing and engraving in Toulouse. He exhibited his works in the yearly Salon of Paris from 1833 to 1848. In 1835, he illustrated an edition of Boccaccio and thus became established as a vignettist.

In 1837 Rogier travelled to Italy, where he stayed for three years. He then moved to Istanbul, and lived in that city from 1840 to 1843. This was the same period when other French artists and intellectuals, more or less close to Rogier, such as Gérard de Nerval, Théophile Gautier, Maxime du Camp and Gustave Flaubert were also in Istanbul. The artist later travelled to Izmir and Asia Minor. Following his return to Paris, he was appointed official illustrator of “L'Illustration” journal. Later on, Rogier held the position of post director at Beirut.

Rogier is considered one of the first French Orientalist painters of the 19th century to depict human types and snapshots from everyday social and private life in the East. He published lithographs, aquarelles and drawings. He is mostly known for his oriental themed lithographs and for the illustration of the works of well-known French authors such as René de Chateaubriand and Victor Hugo.

Rogier's album “La Turquie...”, which includes fifty lithographs and opens with an introductory note by Théophile Gautier, was republished several times. The present edition contains only a few of the plates which make up the complete work.

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) was a prolific French wirter, poet, journalist and art critic. The son of a government official, Gautier lived in Paris from a very early age. He was a close friend of Romantic writer G. de Nerval. Passionate about Victor Hugo‘s work, Gautier became involved in the Romantic movement and published his first poems in the years 1831-32.

Gautier was acquainted with Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, Balzac, Flaubert, Delacroix and other artists of the era. He lived in an eccentric and provocative fashion and was a member of the literary societies that determined intellectual life in 19th century France, such as the Parnassians.

In 1836, following a request by Honoré de Balzac, Gautier started writing art criticism for “La Chronique de Paris”, and in the following thirty years contributed more than two thousand articles to the journal “La Presse”. He wrote numerous collections of poetry and theatre plays, as well as the memoirs of his travels to the Pyrenees in 1840. His travels to Algeria (1845), Italy (1850), Greece (1852), Turkey (1852), Russia (1858) and Egypt (1869) provided Gautier with material for his publications.

Gautier travelled simply, without escorts, and tried to become familiar with local people and their culture. He became director of the “Revue De Paris” and contributed articles to “Le Moniteur”. Gautier was very productive and tirelessly contributed articles to various reviews and wrote biographies (including that of Balzac), articles on art, novels, ballet librettos such as “Giselle”, and texts on musicians such as Berlioz, Gounaud and Wagner.

Gautier was elected president of the Société Nationale Des Beaux-Arts and thus met the most eminent artists of his era: Delacroix, Manet, Doré etc. He was awarded the Légion d'Honneur and was married to Ernestina Grisi, sister of the ballet dancer who interpreted Giselle for the first time. He practiced boxing and swimming and was passionately fond of cats.

Gautier’s style is elaborate, rich and engaging. His descriptions of Istanbul (the monuments, the cafés, bazaars, dervishes, palaces, the Bosporus etc.) show the fascination this city held for travellers. He manages to convey to his readers images that almost acquire the status of artistic paintings.

Plethoric in his life as well as in his discourse, Gautier wrote in a clear, agile and vivid language and his work is the most representative of the literary and artistic life of his era, and has not ceased to be appreciated. To him belong sayings as “Imagination is the first weapon against Reality” and “Art for Art”.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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