Kate Edrington

Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Moorish Bath depicts the interior of a Turkish bathhouse. The wall of the bath curves across the background of the scene, decorated with pointed plaster designs. The lower half of the wall includes a wide band of blue tile and a smaller tan band of tile accented with pinwheels. An arched doorway appears to the leftmost edge of the frame. Next to this doorway is a traditional Middle Eastern water pipe. Streaks of sunlight are splashed across the top left of the wall.
Another short wall is set closer to the viewer, with banded tiled decoration and a long bench seat. Two large swaths of sumptuous fabric are draped over the wall, one red with a gold border and one a deep green. The foreground of the painting includes a shallow pool, with blue and gold geometric tile patterns. This pool is half-filled with water.

Upon the tiled bench is seated a pale nude woman, her legs crossed and one arm reaching up the low wall. She turns her back to the viewer, and very little of her face is visible. She is being attended to by a woman with darker skin, clothed from the waist down in dark, heavy fabric. Her bare upper half is decorated by large necklaces, while her head is wrapped in a bright yellow turban. This woman holds a large metal basin, water nearly tilting out of it. She turns toward the pale nude woman, her face largely in shadow.

But is this scene real?


Figure 1. Figure 2. Figure 3. Figure 4.
Figure 5. Figure 6. Figure 7. Figure 8.
Jean-Léon Gérôme, Moorish Bath